Israeli defense minister makes unplanned visit to United States
The two-day trip is surprising because Barak is slated to step down from his post when the new government is sworn in within a few weeks. In addition, Barak was in the United States only last month in order to give his regards to Leon Panetta, the retiring American secretary of defense, according to Haaretz.
The reason behind the trip remains unknown, but hours before Barak left Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel intends to prevent the Syrian regime from transferring chemical and strategic weapons to Hezbollah. Netanyahu made the comments while speaking at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
"I said it before and I'll say it again, we cannot allow these weapons to fall into terrorist hands," Netanyahu said, Haaretz reports.
Speculation points to the tension along Israel's northern border with Syria and the possibility that Barak may be seeking to coordinate further action with the United States. Two weeks ago, Israeli aircraft attacked what was reportedly a Syrian arms convoy headed to Hezbollah militants.
The Israeli Defense Ministry did not announce the trip until Barak's flight had already left. It is the minister's fourth trip abroad in the last month, but the only one conducted in such a hurried fashion.