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Obama to meet with Ehud Barak

JTA

December 16, 2011 | 7:49 am

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office of the White House on Dec. 14. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama walks to the Oval Office of the White House on Dec. 14. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet with President Obama on Friday morning, according to sources.

The meeting will come shortly before President Obama’s address Friday afternoon to the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism, which is being held in nearby National Harbor, Md.

In an address Thursday night to the organization, Barak said it’s important not to remove any option from the table when it comes to Iran. Barak also praised Obama for opposing Iran’s quest for nuclear capability and said U.S.-Israel defense cooperation is stronger than ever.

“The unshakable bonds between Israel and America and their respective defense establishments under the guiding hand of President Barack Obama are stronger and deeper than ever and we are very thankful and appreciative of that,” he said.

Barak also alluded to the controversy over proposed Knesset bills that critics say would undermine Israeli democracy by targeting certain NGOs and minority groups.

“Homefront peace includes the maintenance of our liberal democracy where the rule of the majority will never be at the expense of the rights of the minority,” Barak said.

“I will stand rock solid against any attempt to curb freedoms or undermine our democracy,” he said. “The only Jewish democratic state in the world must remain exactly that, a Jewish and a democratic state.”

He also said American Jews should not shy away from expressing their opinions about internal Israeli matters. “Your presence and voice is essential to our decision-making. It gives us all one more perspective,” Barak said. “We welcome the debate and highly value your input in our internal debate in Israel.”

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