“The new buildings located on the Israeli installation are not a US military base,” Meghan Henderson, a media operations official at EUCOM, told The Times of Israel Wednesday.
“On September 18, senior leaders from the US military participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony … to commemorate the opening of a new building on an Israeli Air Force base,” the spokeswoman said.
On Monday, Israeli Defense Forces Brig. Gen. Zvi Haimovitch declared “the base is here to stay,” noting that “this is the first time that we have an American flag flying in an IDF base.”
But according to the Israeli publication, shortly afterward, the Israeli Defense Forces scrubbed all references to a US military “base” from its website, calling the new endeavour instead a “facility.”
An Israeli military source verified to The Times of Israel that US military representatives had contacted the IDF to ask for the change in phrasing.
US officials reportedly felt obliged to correct their Israeli counterparts because of an apparent legal discrepancy: A “military base” is subject to different legal statutes than a “military facility.”
According to GlobalSecurity.org, a “main operating base” includes a command and control center, family support structures (churches, fast food joints), and permanently stationed soldiers. Further, MOBs “serve as the anchor points for throughput, training, engagement and US commitment to NATO.”
Then-US President George H.W. Bush designated Israel a major non-NATO ally (MNNA) in 1989. Other MNNAs include Australia, Egypt, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Argentina, Bahrain, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tunisia.
The facilities that opened Monday do not meet the size requirements to be considered a base, the Times of Israel reported. “The buildings will function as a living facility for US service members who are currently working at the Israeli base,” the EUCOM official said.