Ehud Barak praised US Defense Secretary for his role in enhancing
security ties between the US and Israel as the two met in Tel Aviv on
"Ties between Israel an the US in the security realm
are as strong and close as they have ever been, and without a doubt, a
substantial part of the credit belongs to Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta," Barak said.
Calling Panetta "not just a personal friend
for many years, but a friend of Israel," Barak went on to say that "The
US and Israel see reality in much the same way, and there is much to
discuss, as the regional problems are serious and numerous."
Speaking before the meeting, Panetta said, "Our countries have a strong bond, not only of friendship but of
"We will do everything we can to defend both of
our countries," he added.
Ahead of Panetta's arrival in Israel on Tuesday night, Israeli officials said they expected him to press Israel
to give more time for sanctions before launching a military strike against
Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Speaking at a press conference in Cairo
shortly before departing for Israel, Panetta said he would be talking about
“various contingencies,” but said specific military plans would not be put
“I think it is the wrong characterization to say we are going to
be discussing potential attack plans,” he said. “What we are discussing are
various contingencies and how we would respond.”
Asked whether these
included military options, he said: “We obviously continue to work on a number
of options in that area, but the discussions that I hope to have with Israel are
going to be more about what is the threat that we’re confronting and to try to
share both information and intelligence on that.”
The US has said it is
determined to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, but has called on Israel to
give more time for increasingly severe economic sanctions to work.
of our countries are committed to ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear
weapon and to that extent we continue to work together in the effort to ensure
that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear weapon,” Panetta
On Monday, Panetta said that Israel has yet to make a decision to
attack Iran and expressed hope that the escalating sanctions on Iran would
succeed in stopping the regime’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons
“And while the results of that may not be obvious at the
moment, the fact is that [Iran] has expressed a willingness to try to negotiate
with the P5+1, and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a
diplomatic solution,” Panetta said, referring to diplomatic efforts by the five
permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.
The defense secretary
will also tour an Iron Dome counter rocket defense battery, a program that the
US is helping to finance.
Yaakov Katz and Reuters contributed to this report.