April 20, 2012
Notwithstanding the hugs and personal friendship, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrived in Washington Thursday April 19 to tax his host, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, with tough questions about the administration’s dialogue with Iran. They followed the lines of, “What’s going on? Is there a deal? Don’t tell me what you have settled with the Iranians, just your minimal demands, your bottom line.”
The questions reflected Israel’s concern at being kept in the dark about US-Iranian back-track negotiations and American concessions, including President Barak Obama’s willingness to yield on full transparency and international nuclear watchdog inspections at Iran’s nuclear sites.
DEBKAfile reports: The Israeli minister had come to ask for the truth from Panetta’s own lips on the urgent instructions of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who himself had just received worried phone calls from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. They wanted to find out how far Washington had gone in concessions to Iran. You Israelis have more clout in Washington than us, they said. You have to try and stop the downhill decline. Concern was also registered from Berlin.
The two defense chiefs talked for more than an hour, joined for some of their conversation by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.