Israel Hails US anti-IS Push, But Worries on Iran

Israeli ministers voice support for anti-Islamic State coalition, but worried that Obama admin drawing closer to Tehran as a result.

AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff ,

US airstrikes have directly aided Iranian-bac
US airstrikes have directly aided Iranian-bac

Israel on Wednesday hailed US efforts to form an alliance to fight jihadists in Syria and Iraq but raised concerns of a rapprochement between Washington and Israel's arch-foe Iran.

"I praise the American initiative to take action and form a coalition against the Islamic State, and hope those efforts will succeed," Foreign Minister Avigdor  Liberman said in comments broadcast on public radio early Wednesday, shortly after he left for a visit to Lithuania and the United States.

His remarks came as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit at the start of a Middle East tour aimed at building a regional coalition to combat the extremist Sunni militants who have taken over swathes of territory either side of the Syria-Iraq border.

Liberman's comments follow calls yesterday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon for greater cooperation between global intelligence agencies to defeat IS.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, who is close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, also praised the initiative but warned it may signal closer ties between the United States and Iran, which has also pledged to join the struggle.

"There could be some kind of flexibility vis-a-vis Iran by the Americans in the fight against IS," he said. 

American airstrikes have already directly supported Iranian-backed Shia Islamist militias, including during the breaking of the Islamic State's siege of the Shia town of Amerli last week. Apart from funding, equipping and training Iraqi Shia militias, Iran has also sent some of its own special forces to back the push against IS - a push that is being aided by US bombers.

Israel bitterly opposed an interim deal that Washington and other powers reached with Tehran last November, paving the way for the talks on a comprehensive agreement on Iran's future nuclear activities.

Iran and the six powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - had been working to a July target date for a comprehensive agreement to allay international concerns about its ambitions.

But they agreed to extend the talks until November 24 to allow more time to reach a historic deal. The new talks are to open in New York ahead of the opening of the UN General Assembly on September 16.  

Israel has refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent any possibility of it developing the technology for an atomic bomb.