Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is apparently doing some back-channel diplomacy. Ynet reported today that he met with former White House chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who has had some problems at home lately).
There are somewhat conflicting reports as to what Barak’s exact message was and — as they say in Chicago — who sent him. Specifically, it is unclear whether he was looking help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or trying to undercut him.
Ynet’s Attila Somfalvi wrote that it was "unclear" whether Netanyahu was informed of the meeting. (Well, Netanyahu has certainly now been informed.) Ynet reported:
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.
But Haaretz’s Natasha Mozgovaya (citing no sources) reported that Barak was reaching out on Netanyahu’s behalf:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won’t meet with the President Barak Obama next week on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, but in order to ease the recent tensions between the heads of state, Netanyahu sent a message of appeasement to the Obama campaign in the form of Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. The message: The Israeli leader is not meddling in the elections taking place in the United States.
Minister Barak and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel is currently mayor of Chicago, but is still actively involved in the campaign to reelect President Obama. At their meeting, Barak told Emanuel that Netanyahu is unapologetic for his stance on Iran, but that he has absolutely no intention to support one presidential candidate or another or get involved in any other way in the elections.