US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro expressed confidence Thursday that Israel and the US could work together in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group.
Shapiro’s comments came hours after US President Barack Obama laid out the US’s plan to battle the terror group, including expanding airstrikes to Syria and mustering support from regional partners.
“There is no doubt that every nation has something to contribute to this effort, including Israel,” Shapiro told Israel Radio. “There is always close and full cooperation with Israel against mutual threats… I am sure our intelligence services will continue this cooperation when it comes to [IS] just as they have against other threats.”
Shapiro also said that “we will make an effort to arrange a meeting” between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Netanyahu visit to the US after the Jewish New Year.
Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to New York on September 27 for the United Nations General Assembly and return before the Yom Kippur holiday on October 3.
On Wednesday, Obama called for a “systematic campaign of airstrikes, hitting IS targets as Iraqi forces go on the offensive.” He said American bombers would not hesitate to hit IS in Syria as well as Iraq.
The speech marked a major US escalation, despite Obama having devoted much of his presidency to pulling America out of wars in the Middle East and avoiding new foreign entanglements.
Obama also said the US would work with allies, including Sunni Arab states in the region, to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
“Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of foreign fighters into – and out of – the Middle East,” he said.
While Israel is unlikely to directly participate in any military operations against IS, Jerusalem has already 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, according to a report by Reuters, citing an unnamed Western official.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday called for world intelligence agencies to work together against the Islamic State jihadist group.