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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the White House Wednesday where they emphasized the US's commitment to Israel's security and its qualitative military edge in the region.
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According a press release, Barak met with the US officials for an hour and 15 minutes, during which time they discussed events in Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey and as the status of negotiations with the Palestinians.
The top US officials also expressed their expectations that Israel would move forward in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Prior to his meeting at the White House, Barak also met with leaders of Congress including US House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and US House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and emphasized the importance of continued congressional support for aid to Israel.
Earlier Wednesday, government sources denied that Barak was going to Washington to offer the US advice on Egypt, saying Israel was not in any position to do so.
“We have our insights that we share with friends, but we don’t give advice,” he said.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at times bucking the international tide, has over the past few days called for caution in dealing with the Egyptian situation, warning that the upheaval could lead not to democracy, but rather to Iranian-style tyranny.
Since the crisis began, there has been constant consultation between Jerusalem and Washington, government sources said.
One source said that zigzagging US policy on Egypt – from seeming to
abandon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to now recognizing that a quick
exit would lead to further chaos – has led to questions about whether
Washington has a clear Middle East policy.
“This creates a feeling of insecurity – that the Americans are not sure what to do,” the source said.
He said that while in the past the US radiated a sense of purpose when
acting in the Middle East – even if one disagreed with their actions –
the events of the past two weeks left a feeling that the administration
was not sure how to act.
Herb Keinon and Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.