Ayalon: ‘No crisis between Israel and US’
Obama will host Netanyahu March 5; US national security adviser leaves Israel; intelligence chief on his way
Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said ties between the US and Israeli administrations were solid and denied the two were in crisis mode, in an interview aired on Israel Radio Tuesday morning.
The interview was given following Monday’s announcement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet with US President Barack Obama in early March, with the Iranian question still in the air.
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Ayalon said the cooperation between the two countries was strong, adding that mutual understanding was constantly growing. Addressing reports about tensions between the administrations regarding Iran’s nuclear drive, Ayalon said there was no crisis and that the countries were working together.
Officials announced on Monday that Netanyahu would meet with Obama on March 5 after a four day stay in Canada, meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Washington for the annual AIPAC conference where he will be a key guest speaker, and the two leaders will have an official meeting during the second day of the conference.
Israeli prime ministers have commonly met with US presidents when visiting Washington, DC for AIPAC’s annual policy conference. However, this year’s newly announced meeting may prove particularly significant, since it comes amidst a flurry of reports suggesting that Israel is considering military intervention to try to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, and that the Obama Administration is seeking to discourage any such course of action.
The US has been urging Israel to give more time for economic sanctions on Iran to have an impact. Netanyahu, during a visit to Cyprus last Thursday, observed that sanctions were not working. As the US presses Israel to hold back, Israel is urging the US to intensify the sanctions, Channel 2 news reported on Monday.
On Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear policy expert, State Department adviser and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that an Israeli strike could be counterproductive and might mark the start of a very large conflict.
“This would be a very large and complicated and uncertain adventure,” Cirincione said. “They’d have to dodge a pretty stout Iran air defense network, and if they did hit the targets, as they probably could, it’s uncertain whether they would do enough damage to actually do much more than delay the program for a year or so.”
Meanwhile Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, concluded three days of talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem that focused heavily on Iran.
He met with Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and others. Last month, the chairman of the US joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, traveled to Israel. On Thursday, the US director of national intelligence is due in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported.
The White House described the talks as a reflection of the Obama administration’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
Dempsey said in an interview broadcast Sunday that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities is “not prudent.”
AP contributed to this report.
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