UNITED NATIONS – Tensions between Washington and Jerusalem apparently continue to rise.
Last week, Barack Obama decided to snub Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the coming United Nations General Assembly.
Now, he apparently has decided not to meet Israel’s No. 2, Deputy Prime Minister/Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Barak will be in New York next week to attend the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative.
The CGI is an annual summit of high-powered political/business leaders scheduled to overlap with the U.N. assembly.
In explaining the decision to avoid Netanyahu, the White House insisted that “campaign obligations” had the president “out of New York City” by the time Netanyahu was expected to arrive.
But Barak’s visit overlaps with Obama’s, yet still no meeting.
Any decision to move on Iran’s controversial nuclear research program would be a collective decision by both Netanyahu and Barak, yet Obama has decided to avoid both.
He will, however, find time to meet briefly with Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, to discuss the implications of the recent riots by street gangs near the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
Though not yet announced, Obama is also expected to meet Libya’s new prime minister, Mustafa Abushugar, who will be in New York to speak at the United Nations.
Issues concerning the apprehension and punishment of those responsible for the killing of U.S. diplomatic personnel last week in Benghazi are expected to be front and center.
Libya and the U.S. apparently differ on who launched the attack and why.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also will travel to New York next week to attend the Clinton summit.
Efforts are under way to arrange an opportunity for Romney to meet both Barak and Netanyahu in New York.
Ironically, no word from either the Egyptians or the Libyans as to whether the Romney camp has asked for meetings with their leaders while they attend the United Nations.
One person expected to make a high-profile visit is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Making his final trip to the United Nations as president (his current 4-year term expires next year), Ahmadinejad is expected to huddle with both the Egyptians and Libyans, as well with senior officials of Russia and China, during his U.N. visit.
This comes as Iran recently announced that it will enrich its uranium fuel to 20 percent purity, a step just shy of producing bomb-grade material, explains the IAEA, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog.
Netanyahu, who strongly believes the international community must draw a line in the sand that Tehran “must not cross,” is expected to defy the White House and spell out in his U.N. address boundaries that could trigger unilateral Israeli action if Iran crosses them.
Barak is expected to bring that same message to other VIP’s attending the Clinton summit.
The U.S./U.N. mission was not reachable for comment.