Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared to hint on Thursday night that he believed
the United States would join Israel in a strike on Iran to prevent the Islamic
Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a pre-Rosh Hashana
toast for activists of his Independence Party at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, Barak
noted the meeting that he had earlier in the day with Adm. James Winnefeld, vice
chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and said they dealt with all the
developments in the region, but especially Iran.
“The State of Israel
will make its decision about its future and its security alone, but the United
States is our most important partner,” Barak said at the
“[America’s] cooperation, intelligence-sharing and military
support for Israel is extraordinary in its depth and its comprehensiveness, and
I’m convinced that it will continue to be that way in every future test,” he
Barak, who received an update from Winnefeld on America’s
preparedness for dealing with the issues in the region, praised the steps that
America had taken to deal with a possible confrontation with Iran.
share the challenge, though our timetables are not the same and we have our
differences,” the defense minister said.
“Israel maintains for itself the
right to make decisions about its sovereignty and the United States respects
that, but we cannot mistake the impressive depth of American preparedness to
handle the threat [of Iran] from every standpoint,” he said.
that thanks to American generosity, Israel had been able to improve its
situation defensively, noting advances in the Iron Dome, Magic Wand and Arrow
He said the systems increased Israel’s flexibility
and freedom to act.
Winnefeld smiled broadly, exchanging pleasantries
with Barak in his office at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv in a
brief video released by the Defense Ministry.
The visit comes after
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, dismayed
Israeli officials by saying that Washington did not want to be “complicit” in an
Israeli strike on Iran.
Dempsey’s comments were seen as a rebuke to
Israel’s stepping up threats of carrying out a unilateral strike against Iran’s
nuclear facilities before the US presidential election on November
Washington has urged Israel to hold off in order to give economic
sanctions and diplomacy more time to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment.
US Ambassador Shapiro said that the visit "was part of the regular coordination between the US and Israeli militaries on the common challenges we face in the region," in a post on his Facebook page Thursday. He added that the visit aimed at strengthening defense cooperation.
Army Radio reported that the visit began several days ago and included an
inspection of Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system, which is jointly funded
with the United States.
In its press release, the Defense Ministry also
included photographs of Winnefeld and Barak appearing to measure, with their
thumbs and index fingers, the size of Israel on a map of the Middle East on a
wall in Barak’s office.
Since Dempsey’s comments, Israeli officials have
been careful to be complimentary of the United States and its support for
Israel. Before Barak’s comments on Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
praised US President Barack Obama’s foreign policies, saying that “to the credit
of the United States, it is the only country that stood by our side in our
struggles at the United Nations, the Security Council and UNESCO.”
US increased funding for the Iron Dome. Even if we disagree sometimes and even
if there is commentary that suggests otherwise, we must say that we have no
better friend than the US,” the foreign minister continued.
hinted at support for a possible Israeli strike on Iran when he said that
Yisrael Beytenu’s presence in the coalition made the government “more serious
and determined to defend the interests of Israel.”
Reuters contributed to
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