Yitzhak Benhorin
April 27, 2010 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Tuesday with senior US administration officials in Washington, who expressed their surprise over Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's behavior. His conduct, they said, completely contradicts to the atmosphere the government is trying to create in order to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barak is not the only one visiting Washington. Barkat is also in the US capital, where he has been giving a series of interviews to the press during which he criticized US policy in the Middle East and claimed that the demand to freeze construction in east Jerusalem is illegal.

When asked during an interview with Fox News whether the Obama administration has taken an anti-Israel line, Barkat said he didn't know, and that Israel would have to wait and see.

Following these interviews, sources close to the defense minister said to Ynet that they agree with the criticism heard in government circles regarding the Jerusalem mayor's recent behavior.

"Barkat would do well to concentrate on municipal matters and avoid policy issues that are outside his area of authority," one source said.

However, they also said they were satisfied with the series of meetings, which were described as "excellent" and successful regarding security issues.

The round of meetings began with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and is expected to end with an official reception at the Pentagon held in his honor by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Barkat is in Washington for meetings fixed by senior members of Congress, including Democrat Majority leader Steny Hoyer and Republican whip Eric Cantor. The government's criticism against him is nothing to do with them, it seems – in an interview with Politico, Barkat was even presented as a possible future prime minister.


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