Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman pledged Israel’s support for US led efforts in fighting ISIS across the Middle East on Wednesday, after meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington.
Kerry, who just returned to Washington from a whirlwind trip across the Middle East to garner Arab support for the coalition aimed at thwarting ISIS, was assured by Liberman that Israel would help in whatever capacity it could.
According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, Liberman told Kerry that “Israel supports the US and backs its efforts to create a wide international front in the war against the Islamic State, and is available to the US should it ask for help in this battle.”
In a reference to the number of Arab countries who have joined the coalition, the statement noted that Israel was “keeping in mind sensitivities within the lineup of countries that are taking part and in coordination with US needs.”
Earlier this month, it was reported that Israel has been secretly providing the Pentagon with sensitive intelligence and satellite imagery of ISIS activity in the Middle East. Before passing along the intelligence to Arab countries, US intelligence officials would “scrub out” any identifying marks so as not to show the origins of the intel.
During the meeting, both leaders discussed the situation in Gaza. Liberman told Kerry that Israel was fighting the same kind of battle against the Hamas terrorist group. “At the end of the day Islamic terror has one goal – the destruction of Western civilization,” Liberman said according to his office.
The foreign minister added that the only difference between Hamas and ISIS was the terminology and methodology used by each terror group. Liberman’s statement echoed that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously stated that both groups are “separate branches of the same poisonous tree.”
Liberman is said to have told Kerry that as long as Hamas controlled Gaza, peace and security could never permanently develop in southern Israel. The foreign minister said that in order to promote peace in the region, steps needed to be taken to end the “rule of terror in Palestinian Authority-ruled areas.”
As reports of ISIS activity across the border with Israel in Syria intensifies each day, a senior IDF intelligence officer told Israeli media on Wednesday that the army believes that the radical jihadists do not yet pose an immediate threat to the Jewish state.
The officer said that the main problem with ISIS, unlike Hezbollah and Hamas, is that they are impossible to negotiate with.
“The difference between IS and Hamas, for example, is that the Islamic State brought back the religious wars that we thought would no longer happen in the Middle East and therefore there is no possibility of reaching an agreement with them, unlike organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas,” he said.
“They want an uncontested religious rule, and they are opposed to anything modern or liberal,” the officer added.
In regards to the international coalition combating ISIS, the officer stated, “If Israel has intelligence on IS targets in Syria, and we are asked to hand it over to the global coalition against the organization, I believe we will do it.”
The officer confirmed the existence of ISIS sleeper cells near Israel’s borders, but emphasized that they do not pose a threat.