Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
who is visiting the US, has held a secret meeting with Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel,
Ynet has learned on Thursday.
According to state sources, the two discussed the recently faltering ties between Israel
and the US, among other issues.
Barak's office refused to comment on the meeting, and it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
was informed of it.
Emanuel with Obama (Archive photo: AFP)
In light of the recent tension between Barak and Netanyahu, Israeli officials postulated that the defense minister is using backchannels to send pacifying messages to the US. The sources further suggested that Barak is trying to present himself as the sensible counterweight to Netanyahu in order to bolster his own ties with the White House at the expense of the prime minister's relations with President Barack Obama.
Barak has been making efforts to taper down the harsh exchanges made between Jerusalem and Washington in recent weeks. Emanuel is still considered Obama's confidante, while Barak is viewed in Washington as a foreign minister of sorts.
Wrangling between Israel and the US over ways to deal with Iran's
atom aspirations has escalated recently, with Netanyahu repeatedly demanding Obama to set "red lines"
that could trigger an American military operation against the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities.The White House has dismissed these demands.