Israel’s military confirmed Sunday that Joint Chiefs of
Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey will travel to the Mideast nation this week for
talks, as Israel’s No. 2 public official suggested that President Obama is
being meek about Iran ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
The content of the coming discussion between the U.S.
general and Israel’s top military commander was not stated, but Iran is first
and foremost in Israel’s mind as the Islamic Republic takes a step closer to
Can Iran be Contained?
If Iran obtains nuclear weapons can it ever truly be
“There is very close cooperation between Israel, the
Israeli military and the U.S. military, and General Dempsey is a close friend,
and I’m sure that he and our chief of staff will have very serious discussions
about all the options,” said former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dan
With Dempsey scheduled to visit Israel this week — his
first official trip to the country since he assumed command of the joint chiefs
on Sept. 30 — the occasion may be used to urge Israel to stay calm and let
Israel has grown antsy about Iran’s nuclear program and has
repeatedly hinted it might take military action if international sanctions fail
to stop Iran’s nuclear development, which is moving at a fast clip. Reports are
that Iran will have 20 percent concentration of enriched uranium by next month.
That level of enrichment is not used for energy production but toward weapons
The U.S. has imposed a series of economic sanctions against
the regime, and U.S. officials — as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu — have suggested that the tough sanctions are starting to break down
support for the regime.
But Israeli Cabinet Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday he
was disappointed that the U.S. has not expanded sanctions to further damage
Iran’s central bank and its energy industry. He also suggested that the Obama
administration hasn’t been as forceful as Britain and France in imposing
“In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-1, to impose these sanctions, and in the U.S. administration there is hesitation for fear of
oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations,” Ya’alon
told Israel Radio, according to Haaretz newspaper. “In that regard, this
is certainly a disappointment, for now.”
The Obama administration is concerned that Iran’s verbosity about its expanding nuclear operation will drive Israel to strike. President Obama spoke Thursday with
Netanyahu, and Iran was part of the conversation, said White House spokesman
Jay Carney, without detailing the content of the call.
Dempsey spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told Fox News that the
trip was not orchestrated in light of recent events. He said Dempsey’s office
has been planning a series of talks with his counterparts, and the trip
includes a stop in Paris and Brussels as well as Tel Aviv.
“This whole trip has been in the works for months,” Lapan said. “Much as some want to
read the Israel stop as connected to Iran, that’s not the case.” Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz is also headed abroad this week — to Brussels for talks with NATO officials that are expected to focus on Iran. Gantz was quoted last week telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran — in part because of
“things that happen to it unnaturally.”
Gantz’s comment came one day after the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, an occasion that Iran’s leaders have used to stir up anti-Israel and anti-American
sentiment. The U.S. has denied any role in the assassination, though leaders
have left the impression they know how it happened. Israel has not commented on
Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes,
and has invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit, though several
observers say it is likely merely a delay tactic.
Gillerman said Dempsey’s visit may allow the Israeli
military to impress upon Dempsey the need for some distinct solution to Iran.
“What we hope very much is the U.S. will realize that
time is running out, the clock is ticking and action must be taken,”
Gillerman told Fox News. “And if military action is necessary, we hope
very much the U.S. and the rest of the world will take it because, as I said,
it’s a threat to civilization as we know it, not just to Israel.”