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Amid Iran concerns, top U.S. and Israeli officials meet

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Top U.S. and Israeli officials have met in recent weeks as the Obama administration continues to reassure Israel about its efforts to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Thomas Nides, the deputy secretary of state, and Neal Wolin, the deputy secretary of the Treasury, met Monday and Tuesday with Israeli and Palestinian officials ostensibly to "emphasize the confidence of the United States in the resilience of the Israeli economy and the importance of a strong, functioning Palestinian economy to the region’s security and the success of the peace process."

Left unsaid is whether the officials will discuss intensified Iran sanctions with Israel. However, the State and Treasury departments jointly administer the sanctions, and Wolin has testified to Congress on the topic.

Additionally, William Burns, the deputy secretary of state, met Monday with Moshe Ya’alon, the deputy Israeli prime minister, in Washington.

The State Department said only that "they discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and concern."

Ya’alon recently raised eyebrows in Washington when he suggested that the Obama administration has been too soft on Iran.

U.S. officials are pressing the case to Israel and its people that the Obama administration is making advances in isolating Iran through intensified sanctions targeting its energy and financial sectors. A top State Department official last week briefed Israeli and Jewish media on the matter, a first.

This week, the Treasury Department added Iran’s third largest bank to those subject sanctions targeting third parties that deal both with the United States and the targeted institution. Reportedly there are concerns among top U.S. officials that Israel may strike Iran without advance warning.

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