A secret meeting between the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Leon Panetta and Israeli officials has reportedly centered on Iran’s nuclear program.
In a secret flying visit to Israel on Thursday, the head of the CIA reportedly discussed Iran’s nuclear issue in a sit-down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Mossad Chief Meir Dagan.
The trip, which was originally scheduled to take place in May, follows a recent wave of developments in the Middle East that are strongly imply preparations for a possible new military conflict in the region.
Israel has allegedly increased the scope of its undercover operations in the region, particularly against Lebanon, Iran, Syria and the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
The extent of this could be seen in recent remarks by Israeli cabinet minister Yossi Peled, in which the former army general explicitly said that another confrontation with Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah was almost inevitable.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded to the claims on Thursday, saying that Israel’s threats against Hezbollah are perceived as threats against Lebanon.
"We consider the Israeli threats on Lebanon to be a threat to the Lebanese government as a whole, rather than to one particular person," said Hariri during a joint news conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Hamas officials say they have concrete evidence that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, staged the recent assassination of a senior Hamas commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai on January 20.
Their claims have been somewhat supported by Dubai Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan.
"It could be Mossad," AFP quoted police chief Dhahi Khalfan as saying on Sunday.
To add to the controversy, sources in Turkey’s ruling party told Russia’s Mignews on Saturday that Israeli spy agents ran an advanced electronic monitoring station from the Ankara military headquarters to keep tabs on communication networks in Iran and Syria.
According to the sources who were speaking on condition of anonymity, the Signals Intelligence station was solely managed by Israeli intelligence personnel and had become off-limits for members of the Turkish government.
For years Israeli politicians have masterminded a wave of undercover operations and terror plots in numerous countries, including Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Switzerland, and the US.
However, much of Israel’s espionage operations have lately been focused on the Tehran government, largely because of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which Tel Aviv has been seeking to portray as a mortal threat.
Tel Aviv, which is reported to have an arsenal of 200 nuclear warheads itself, accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons and routinely threatens to reduce the country’s enrichment sites to rubble.
This is while Iran, unlike Israel, is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has opened its enrichment facilities to UN inspection.
On Saturday, US presidential aid James Jones rejected prospects of an Israeli attack against Iran.
Although US officials normally deny having any plans to stage new war in the region, there have recently been strong hints to the contrary.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Washington will further increase its military presence in the Persian Gulf — allegedly to soup up its defense against possible Iranian missile attacks.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has approved the deployment of new combat equipments, including advanced missile systems and special warships, to the region.