Defense Minister Ehud Barak flew to the United States on Wednesday for meetings
with top Obama administration officials regarding Iran, the ongoing upheaval in
the Middle East, and as part of an effort to seek a resolution to Israel’s
current standoff with Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.
meet on Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, and hold his first work meeting with newly-appointed Secretary of
Defense Leon Panetta, who took up his post earlier this month. On Friday, he
will fly to New York and meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon.RELATED:US defense chief warns of Iran supplying weapons in IraqCIA head: J'lem knows not to attack Iran
Defense officials said that Barak will bring up the ongoing
stalemate with Turkey over Israel’s reluctance to apologize for last year’s
operation which stopped the Mavi Marmara
, as well as possible ways to stop the
Palestinian Authority from moving forward with its plans to unilaterally declare
statehood at the UN General Assembly in September.
Barak’s meeting with
Panetta will be the first time the two meet since the former CIA director took
up his new post on July 1. As head of the CIA, Panetta worked closely with
Israeli intelligence and made an unannounced visit to Israel in early 2010,
during which he reportedly warned the government against attacking Iran’s
While Barak is considered more of a hawk when it
comes to Iran, officials close to the Israeli defense minister have made an
effort to downplay the seeming discord between Israel and the US regarding the
Iranian nuclear threat. Nevertheless, Israel and the US are still believed to be
at odds over the central question of whether Iran is currently pursuing a
nuclear weapon, or has yet to make the decision to manufacture the
Last week, in a Wall Street Journal
op-ed, former CIA veteran Fred
Fleitz, who read the US’s updated and classified National Intelligence Estimate
(NIE) on Iran, claimed that it did not change the assessment of the
controversial NIE from 2007, which claimed that Iran halted its nuclear weapons
program in 2003 and has not started it since.
“It is unacceptable that
Iran is on the brink of testing a nuclear weapon while our intelligence analysts
continue to deny that an Iranian nuclear weapons program exists,” Fleitz wrote.
“One can’t underestimate the dangers posed to our country by a US intelligence
community that is unable to provide timely and objective analysis of such major
threats to US national security – or to make appropriate adjustments when it is
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