debkafile Exclusive: Dispute over Iran’s nuclear program throws Israel-US relations into grave crisis

Senior Israel security and intelligence officials report: Washington is refusing to heed the intelligence Israel has gathered on Iran’s covert military nuclear program which refutes its latest estimate, denies Israel access to authentic US intelligence and has embarked on steps detrimental to Israel in relation to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon, without informing its government.
Defense minister Ehud Barak challenged the US intelligence estimate on Iran Tuesday, Dec. 4. He said that Iran may have stopped its military program in 2003, but has since apparently restarted it.
Prime minister Ehud Olmert, left in the dark by Israel’s senior ally, is at a loss to arrest the serious deterioration in their relations. At pains to conceal the gaping rift with Washington, the prime minister’s office released word of George W, Bush’s coming visit to Jerusalem, his first as president. However, debkafile‘s sources disclose Israel will be only one stop Jan. 9 along an extensive Middle East tour, which will take Bush to Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Ramallah, where he intends to make a big deal of proclaiming his support for forthcoming Palestinian statehood.
He will also visit Beirut, by which time Gen. Michel Suleiman will be installed as president. Bush will hail his administration’s diplomatic success in securing Saudi, Iranian and Syrian approval for the election of a pro-Syrian Hizballah supporter as Lebanese president.
Talking to the media Tuesday, the US president ducked the question of whether the new US Intelligence Estimate had changed Washington’s Iran policy. Next month, our sources report, he will have ample opportunity to demonstrate his abrupt, tidal policy reversals when he tours Middle East capitals.
debkafile‘s Jerusalem sources report Olmert, loath to admit the loss of Israel’s most powerful friend, is under mounting pressure by leading political, intelligence and military officials to stand up and articulate an independent Israeli stance in the light of the Bush administration’s actions, especially in response to the true facts of Iran’s nuclear activities. The rift with Washington is not just political, they say, but touches on critical security issues that affect Israel’s very survival.
One immediate proposal is for the establishment of a national emergency government.

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