Barak blocks Obama envoy from meeting senior military

Saleh Naami in Gaza, Thursday 16 Dec 2010

The Israeli defense minister has refused to allow Obama envoy Dennis Ross to meet privately with Israeli military and intelligence officials

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak denied the request of US President Barack Obama's envoy Dennis Ross to hold meetings with senior military and intelligence officers during his visit to Tel Aviv, Israeli media reported Thursday.

Officials told Tik Debka website — an Israeli website specializing in intelligence — that the purpose of Ross's visit was to convince the Israeli military and intelligence to give up the military option against Iran's nuclear programme and not to conduct military operations to stop Hizbullah from smuggling weapons from Syria.

The website added that Barak considered Ross's request to hold separate meetings with top intelligence and military officers as an attempt by the Obama administration to work behind his back. Barak offered to invite military and intelligence officials to attend his meeting with Ross, scheduled for today afternoon.

Informed sources told the website that Barak worked in the past few months to put an end to intelligence leaks to Washington about Tel Aviv's future military plans, especially as regards Iran and its Lebanon ally Hizbullah.

The sources added there is a disagreement between Tel Aviv and Washington over Obama's recent decision to delegate negotiations with Iran to EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton.

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