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U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Israel last night for a brief visit that will focus on the American-Israeli dispute over whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak plan to stress that Israel reserves the right to defend itself, and to make its own decision on whether to attack.
Another major topic of discussion will be efforts to prevent Syria's chemical weapons from reaching Lebanon.
A senior government official told Haaretz that even if Jerusalem attacks Iran over Washington's objections, he doesn't think the United States will turn its back on Israel. Israel, he added, must retain sole responsibility for its security.
Panetta's visit comes against the backdrop of a rash of media reports about the possibility of an Israeli strike. In a series of interviews with Israeli television stations on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, "Iran wants to annihilate us. I won't let that happen."