Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Israel on Friday to "reach out and mend fences" with Turkey, Egypt and other security partners in the Middle East, saying he is troubled by the Jewish state's growing isolation in the volatile region.
He also pressed Israeli leaders to do more to restart peace talks with the Palestinians -- "Just get to the damned table" -- and underscored President Obama's determination to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He called Iran "a very grave threat to all of us" and said any Iranian disruption of the free flow of commerce through the Persian Gulf is a "red line" for the U.S.
In a speech at a Brookings Institution forum, Panetta said that while Israel is not solely responsible for its isolation, it could more actively attempt to reverse the trend.
"For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability -- countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan," he said.