Israel – By phone on Friday Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke  to outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and thanked him for his contribution to Israeli security.

“You are a true friend of the state of Israel,” Ya’alon said. “For me you were a true partner for consultations and exchanging opinions. The close ties between us are testimony to the relation between the defense establishments. Your assistance to safeguarding Israel’s qualitative edge, and procurement of advanced weaponry, was very significant,” Ya’alon said, naming the Iron Dome rocket defense system and F-35 fighter jet as two examples.

“I’d like to thank you in the name of Israeli civilians and in the name of the state of Israel for your big contribution to our security,” he added.

Last week, Ya’alon said the Obama Administration had forced him into halting the advancement of West Bank settlement plans, adding that the Obama administration was temporary and had only two more years left in power.

Ya’alon was speaking during a closed door meeting with pupils at the Makor Haim Yeshiva, which is in the West Bank’s Gush Etzion region.

However, his words were recorded, and Army Radio played limited sections of the speech on Wednesday morning.

In response to the broadcast of thie comments, sources close to Ya’alon said the defense minister views the US as Israel’s greatest friend and one on which it relied strategically.

“The scope and the depth of the strategic cooperation… is unprecedented,” they stated.

But they noted that there were a number of disagreements between Israel and the US on several issues.