Israel tells US it will act if IS reaches Jordan

Israel tells US it will act if IS reaches Jordan

Diplomatic source says US airstrikes in Iraq against extremist group already yielding results

Benjamin Netanyahu (left), meeting with John Kerry in Jerusalem, March 31, 2014. (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu (left), meeting with John Kerry in Jerusalem, March 31, 2014. (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90)

In talks with US officials about the Islamic State this week, Israel has made clear that should the extremist group start operating in neighboring Jordan, it will not hesitate to act, Channel 2 reported Friday citing diplomatic sources.

According to the report, Israel believes US airstrikes in Iraq have already yielded results on the ground, helping Kurdish forces make inroads in recapturing territory overtaken by the extremist group.

The TV report did not specify what actions Israel might take if Islamic State started impacting upon Jordan, but Israel is wary of its eastern neighbor being challenged by the brutal terror group, and would seek to guard against further inroads that would directly threaten Israel.

Israel has provided the US with intelligence and satellite images on Islamic State positions, as well as information on Westerners joining its ranks, to assist Washington in its ongoing operation against the Islamic State, reports earlier this week indicated.

Amid intense diplomatic efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry, 10 key Middle Eastern governments, including Jordan, agreed to back President Barack Obama’s newly announced campaign against the Islamic State, which has conquered large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

In an official document, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Sunni states in the Persian Gulf formally joined Obama’s coalition Friday, pledging to stanch the terror group’s funding and possibly even contribute directly to the war effort.

The signatories of the document, which is known as the Jeddah Communique, also include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In it, the Arab countries pledge to staunch sources of funding for the Islamic State, as well as stem the flow of foreign fighters to the group.

The 10 states “agreed to do their share in the comprehensive fight” against Islamic State, said a statement after a meeting Thursday between Kerry and his Arab counterparts.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was doing its part in confronting worldwide jihadist terrorism, though not all of its efforts are known to the public and expressed Jerusalem’s full support for the American-led offensive against the Islamic State organization unveiled Wednesday.

In a major foreign policy address, Netanyahu also warned of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, saying this would cause the “ultimate terror.” Efforts to weaken Sunni terrorists should not result in strengthening Shiite radicalism, he urged.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with cabinet members and security officials to discuss the Islamic State.

The meeting was attended by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and an unnamed representative of the Shin Bet security organization, according to the Israeli news agency Walla.

A central focus of their discussion was the threat of Israel-Arabs joining the group and potentially creating homegrown cells on Israeli soil.

According to unnamed sources within Shin Bet, up to 10 Israeli-Arabs have joined the Islamic State and the rebel group’s flag has been sighted in various places throughout the Jewish state.

The meeting came in the wake of journalist Steven Sotloff’s widely publicized murder by an Islamic State terrorist. Sotloff was a dual American-Israeli citizen who had made aliya from Florida in 2005 and studied at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

The prime minister sent his condolences to the Sotloff family last week and made a separate statement that contended that the 31-year-old was murdered because he was seen “as a symbol of the West, the same culture that extremist Islam wishes to annihilate.”

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