Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is headed to the U.S. for a series of meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, chairman of the U.S. Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. Barak is expected to lobby for stiffer sanctions on Iran, and to layout the Israeli blueprint for restarting talks with the Palestinians.
One report indicates that indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority could begin as early as March 12th, and last a total of three months. Palestinian officials are reluctant to enter future negotiations after Netanyahu decided to renovate Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as Jewish Heritage sites.
The Defense Minister is also expected to meet with UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to try to curb deliberation on the Goldstone Report on Gaza. Last month, Israel issued a document on investigations it has made since the report and said it hoped UN pressure for further steps could be avoided.