Report: CIA chief John Brennan secretly visited Israel

Despite policy disagreements, top American and Israeli intelligence and military officials have been meeting recently to discuss the serious security challenges facing both nations. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan was in Israel last week for secret meetings with senior Israeli security officials ahead of the June 30th deadline for the signing of a nuclear agreement  between Iran and the P5+1.

Haaretz, quoting two Israeli security officials, reports that Brennan met on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his security adviser Yossi Cohen, as well as with Mossad director Tamir Pardo and Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi, commander of the IDF’s Intelligence Corps.

The CIA has not commented on the report.

Tensions between Jerusalem and Washington have been running high in recent months, especially on the issue of the pending nuclear deal with Iran. It is unclear whether Brennan delivered a message for Netanyahu from President Barack Obama on the issue.

Obama insists that a diplomatic solution is the only way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has repeatedly charged that the framework agreement signed at the end of March is a “bad deal” that would pave the way to Iranian nuclear weapons.

However, Brennan stated earlier this month that despite the disagreements, security cooperation between Israel and the US remains unhindered.

Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, Brennan clarified that in no way have the CIA intelligence-gathering capabilities been degraded by tensions between the two governments.

“There is a very, very strong relationship between United States and Israel on the intelligence, security and military fronts,” the CIA director stated. “It’s one of the great things, I think, about our system; there can be policy differences between our governments, but the intelligence and security professionals know that we have an obligation to keep our countries safe and secure.”

Despite the differences of opinions between Israel and US and the “great debate” about the Iranian nuclear negotiations, “the CIA, NSA and other intelligence community entities are working very close with their Israeli as well as other counterparts,” he said.

In what may have been a follow-up visit, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel on Monday, accompanied by his wife Deanie, for his fifth visit in that capacity.

Dempsey is scheduled to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other Israeli security officials regarding the acute challenges facing both countries. He will also be awarded with an IDF badge of appreciation by Eisenkot, the IDF said.