“Israel fully supports President Obama’s call for a united action against ISIS,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared on Thursday at the annual conference of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya.
Netanyahu will be cheering the American-led coalition to fight Islamic State from the sidelines, however. As in the First Gulf War to oust Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, Israel will not participate in the fighting.
Speaking on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Netanyahu warned of the continuing threat of radical Islamist terrorism, warning that Hamas, al-Qaida, Hizbullah, Islamic State and Boko Haram all stem from “branches of the same poisonous tree.”
Netanyahu hailed the alliance being formed by moderate Arab states to defeat Islamist terrorism.
“As a result of this they [the states] are reevaluating their relationships with Israel and realizing that Israel is not their enemy, but their ally,” he said.
Netanyahu convened a meeting in his office Wednesday to discuss terror threats from Islamic State and similar groups. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Yoram Cohen, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein were in attendance.
Possible measures were discussed to prevent the establishment in Israel of Islamic State cells or their allies.
Israel’s non-participatory role in the U.S.-led coalition was the focus of criticism from Labor Party and opposition head Yitzchak Herzog.
Herzog blamed Netanyahu for Israel’s exclusion, despite its stake in the outcome.
Israel was not invited into the coalition in 1991 because its inclusion would have angered Arab allies and upset the delicate diplomatic balance.
Then, the country was led by a right-wing Likud leader, Yitzchak Shamir, who refused to negotiate with the Palestinians — and now, said Herzog, it is Netanyahu who has excluded Israel from the anti-IS coalition by failing to seriously negotiate with the Palestinians.
“Had Netanyahu and his minister behaved differently” and negotiated with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in a “satisfactory” manner, “Israel would be a part of the coalition,” Herzog toldIsrael Radioin an interview Thursday.
Herzog contended that Israel’s exclusion should be considered a “diplomatic failure” by Netanyahu.
Despite Herzog’s comments, on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the two countries would continue to cooperate diplomatically and militarily following U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night laying out a strategy for fighting Islamic State.