Analysis: Barak as ‘guardian’ of alliance with US

Sources close to defense minister say he is working with Administration, Pentagon, Congress to ensure US support.

October 4, 2012 02:48
1 minute read.
Ehud Barak and Leon Panetta

Ehud Barak Leon Panetta hug 390. (photo credit: Ariel Harmoni / GPO)

Whether it’s because elections are in the air or because of real disagreements between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on how to engage the Obama administration on Iran, sources close to Barak insisted this week that he is the key to maintaining a sturdy bridge between Jerusalem and Washington.

And it is this bridge, the sources believe, that must not be damaged for any reason, for it is crucial to Israel’s national security.

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According to these sources, the alliance with the US will be paramount if and when a security escalation occurs due to the fall of the Assad regime. In this regard, Israeli and American defense planners are believed to be holding intensive discussions on contingency options to deal with unguarded chemical weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists.

If Israel decides to go it alone and strike Iran’s nuclear sites without American cooperation or approval, it would still require support from Washington to avoid diplomatic isolation the day after, Barak’s associates have argued.

To further these and other goals, such as Israel’s evolving missile defense program, which is largely financed by the US, Barak is working with the Obama Administration, the Pentagon and both parties in Congress, the associates say.

On Wednesday, Channel 2 cited Netanyahu as having accused Barak with stoking divisions between the two countries, and then presenting himself as the “savior.” Irrespective of who is right, some members of the public are likely to be unsettled by the fact that public feuding is taking place in the highest echelons of Israel’s leadership as the region burns with instability and the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program is far from being lifted.

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