Israeli defense minister meets with Emanuel as tensions rise - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Israeli defense minister meets with Mayor Emanuel as tensions rise

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Defense Minister of Israel Ehud Barak had an unannounced, hour-long lunch with Mayor Emanuel at Chicago's City Hall Thursday afternoon.

The meeting between Emanuel and Barak was as much of a surprise to news outlets in the Middle East as it was in Chicago.

Tensions are high as Israel threatens to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Reporters in Jerusalem speculated that the defense minister gave the mayor a message for President Obama during their private, 1-on-1 lunch.

Mayor Emanuel accepted gifts from and signed a sister-city agreement with the mayor of Wuhan, China, late Thursday. He refused to discuss an earlier meeting with the Israeli Defense Minister.

Aides said the men have stayed in touch since they first met while Emanuel worked for President Clinton and through his stint as President Obama's Chief of Staff.

A reporter for Israel's Haaretz.com wrote that the defense minister gave Emanuel a message for President Obama from Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Even though Netanyahu is close to Republican Mitt Romney, he "is not meddling in the (U.S.) elections."

It may not look that way in South Florida, where a group calling itself "Secure America Now" has reserved a half-million dollars worth of air time for this ad featuring Netanyahu's arguments for an attack soon on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Top Iranian leaders have called for Israel's destruction. The Obama Administration has insisted Israel must wait.

"Wait for what? Wait until when?" Netanyahu asks. "The world needs American strength, not apologies."

That last line repeats a frequent Republican attack on the president. A spokesman said Netanyahu was not aware of the ad Secure America Now.

Haaretz.com reported that Ehud Barak also "told Emanuel that Netanyahu is unapologetic for his stance on Iran" on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Emanuel said she did not know what he discussed during lunch with the Israeli minister. She said the two men had wanted to meet here about six months ago, but said that fell through.

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