From DEBKAfile ,December 7, 2006, 9:28 AM (GMT+02:00) ...
Robert Gates’ reference to an Israeli nuclear weapon was synchronized with Baker’s exclusion of Israel from a Mid East conference. The Senate confirms Gates in defense by 95-2 vote
The pair is pursuing new policy line which sacrifices the traditional US-Israeli alliance for the sake of wooing Iran, Syria and Iraq’s neighbors for help in Iraq. During his senate hearings, Gates confirmed - and indirectly justified - Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon by declaring that Iran wants the power of deterrence against “the nuclear countries surrounding them – Pakistan in the east, Russia in the north, Israel in the west and the United States in the Persian Gulf.”
Israeli vice premier Shimon Peres said Israel, backed by the US, has for decades pursued a policy of nuclear ambiguity as a powerful deterrence “against enemies bent on its destruction, while threatening no other country itself.”
DEBKAfile: The designated US defense secretary did not consult – or even inform - Israel before a disclosure that violates a confidence long-held between the two governments.
Gates also said that “If Iran obtains nuclear weapons no one can promise it would not use them against Israel.”
He was then confirmed as defense secretary Wednesday by an overwhelming 95-2 Senate vote. The only two opposing votes were cast by two Bush allies, Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky. They cited his criticism of the war and his view that the U.S. should engage Iran as part of a solution.
The Pentagon, which has warned against granting a role to Iran and Syria at Israel’s expense, has a new master, Robert Gates. He has already applied the broom to his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld’s senior aides.
Some Washington pundits accused the co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker, as forcing President George W. Bush to resort to dealing with the Iraqi Shiite-led government for the sake of an orderly US exit from Iraq. The price offered is acceptance that Iran could go nuclear within two years at Israel’s expense.
The group’s recommendation of a Madrid-2 peace conference for a Middle East peace would pander to the Arabs and their European backers by pushing for a full Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 war. Israel and its supporters in the United States would have no say – “…a unique opportunity for the US to strike a deal without Jewish pressure,” as one Washington observer put it.
This sort of crude language has not been heard in Washington’s top circles since George Bush the elder was president and James Baker his secretary of state.
The new-old gang has also revived the threat of an imposed “peace.” It is barely veiled in the Baker-Hamilton report’s statement: “The US cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it embarks on a renewed and sustained commitment to a comprehensive peace plan on all fronts.”
The prime minister’s office in Jerusalem still clings to the now-meaningless statement that there is “no fear of a change in US policy towards Israel.” The statement released Thursday, Dec. 7, asserted that Ehud Olmert was assured during his Washington visit two weeks ago that “there was no linkage between the Iraq issue and Israel.”