Barak makes surprise visit to U.S., days before top Netanyahu aides’ own trip


The purpose of the trip is still not clear, but the outgoing defense minister is to meet with senior intelligence and Pentagon officials; this is Barak’s fourth trip abroad in the last month alone.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak left for Washington on Monday morning for a surprise visit. The exact purpose of his trip is still not clear, but his office said that he was planning to meeting with senior officials in the Pentagon and the American intelligence community.
This is Barak’s fourth trip abroad in the last month alone. He has made no fewer than nine business trips outside Israel in the past five months. He returned to Israel just last week from his latest trip – to the International Security Conference in Munich, Germany, which was attended by defense ministers from around the world. This trip came one week after Barak attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The defense minister’s other recent jaunts include a January visit to Washington and a visit to the United Kingdom in late October.
Minister Dan Meridor will serve as acting defense minister in Barak’s absence.
During these trips, Barak had the opportunity to make some comments to foreign media and audiences that quickly turned into front-page headlines in Israel.
While in Munich, for example, Barak made what was perceived to be the first Israeli acknowledgment of last week’s attack in Syria that foreign media attributed to Israel.
While in Davos, Barak said he was confident the U.S. has a plan for a ‘surgical operation’ against Iran, which would only be used in the event that diplomatic efforts to convince the country to drop its military nuclear program do not succeed.
Barak’s visit to Washington comes at a strange time, as he is planning to retire from politics in just a few weeks.
In addition, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy Isaac Molho are scheduled to visit Washington later this week, to prepare for U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel next month. Aside from the technical details, Amidror will work with the Americans on the visit’s diplomatic agenda, especially on the Syrian and Iranian issues. Molho will discuss ideas for restarting the peace process.

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