Barak endorses Barack, touts US security support
In what appears like a clear endorsement of a presidential candidate, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday night that Barack Obama has been the most supportive president on matters of Israeli security throughout the two countries' diplomatic relations.
In an interview aired late Monday night on CNN, Barak told Wolf Blitzer that the Obama administration’s support of Israeli defense and intelligence establishments was far greater than under any other administration he remembered working with since and including President Jimmy Carter.
"I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years [and] administrations of both sides of [the] political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israeli [sic] and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people," Barak said.
"But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past,” he added.
Barak’s interview to CNN came just days after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Israel and just before US Secretary of Defense will visit the country.
In an interview with Israel Radio on Monday, Barak was asked why he did not meet Romney during his visit to Jerusalem on Sunday. “There is one president at any given time in the US just like here there is one government,” he responded.
Panetta will arrive in Israel on Wednesday for meetings with Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He will also tour an Iron Dome counter rocket defense battery, a program that the US is helping to finance.
Israeli officials said they expected to Panetta to press Israel to give more time for sanctions before launching a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. On Monday, he said that Israel has yet to make such a decision and expressed hope that the escalating sanctions on Iran would succeed in stopping the regime’s pursuit of a weapons capability.
"And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to try to negotiate with the P5+1, and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution," Panetta said, referring to diplomatic efforts by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.