The Commander of the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) has joined his predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, in endorsing the concept of linkage.

The notion of linkage contends that a festering Arab-Israeli conflict takes a strategic toll on the U.S. in the Middle East.

In an Congressional testimony, CENTCOM head Gen. James Mattis said that while Israel and the Occupied Territories are outside of his purview, they affect “U.S. security interests in the region.” He described a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “the only reliable path to lasting peace in this region.”

The CENTCOM Area of Responsibility includes nearly all countries in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Here’s the relevant bit from Mattis’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, via the American Forces Press Service:

Mattis said while Israel and Palestine aren’t in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, lack of progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace affects U.S. security interests in the region.

“I believe the only reliable path to lasting peace in this region is a viable two-state solution between Israel and Palestine,” he said. “This issue is one of many that is exploited by our adversaries in the region, and is used as a recruiting tool for extremist groups.”

By contrast, Mattis said, substantive progress in the peace process would improve CENTCOM’s opportunities to work with regional partners and support multilateral security efforts.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this said Mattis was interviewed by AFPS. Instead, the comments were made in Congressional testimony, which the article now reflects. A more broad quote of Mattis’s comments, as well as video of his testimony, can be found at the website of Americans for Peace Now.

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