Last-minute date with Gates arranged for Barak

After debkafile reported Monday, July 28, that no meeting had been arranged for the visiting Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak with defense secretary Robert Gates in Washington, the Pentagon spokesman announced they would meet after all – albeit for “standard defense consultative discussions.” The visit would not be accompanied by any of the usual honor trappings, he said.
Barak lands in the middle of a controversy with Gates over the wisdom of a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons projects before it is too late. American coordination with any Israeli strike plan would be contingent on his review and approval, which he has withheld.
A senior adviser to minister Barak, Amos Gilad, said in a radio interview Sunday, “This is a very important visit. Israel cannot tolerate living under an Iranian nuclear threat. For the moment our priority is the diplomatic track, but Israel has to be prepared to use all options.”
debkafile‘s military sources note that Gates also avoided meeting Israel’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, although he spent all last week in Washington on a working visit at the invitation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.
The latest issue of Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly, carried an article in which the US defense secretary wrote that a war with Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It is the last thing we need, he wrote, despite the fact that Iran “supports terrorism,” is “a destabilizing force through the Middle East and Southwest Asia and in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Another cause of Israel’s concern is the Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama’s praise for Gates’ position on Iran.
Firing on all cylinders, Israel’s transport minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister involved in U.S.-Israeli strategic relations, is expected in Washington on July 30. He too will meet Cheney and Rice. His spokesman told AFP: “The main subject under discussion will be the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program to the entire region.”
Barak will also be meeting vice president Dick Cheney, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, senior military officials and members of Congress.

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