Once again, Israel is not part of an international coalition to "defend the Middle East", even though Israel is at the heart of the Middle East – and it's all Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's fault, said Labor Party and opposition head Yitzchak Herzog.
US President Barack H. Obama is planning to build an international coalition of Arab and Gulf states to fight back against ISIS, the Islamist terror group that has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria, and has threatened to do the same to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Gulf states, as it continues to build the "Muslim caliphate."
Israel has not been asked to be a part of this coalition – just like it was not asked to be part of the American coalition in 1991, when the US beat Iraq's Saddam Hussein back from Kuwait, which he attempted to occupy. Israel was asked not to intervene in that war – a dictate the country's leaders agreed to, even though Israel's population centers were hit by dozens of Iraqi SCUD missiles.
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-ISIS 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 told Israel Radio in an interview Thursday.
In fact, said Herzog, the fact that Israel was not included in the coalition should be considered a "diplomatic failure" by Netanyahu.
In his speech Wednesday, Obama said that the US would form a broad coalition to combat ISIS.
"The greatest threat comes from Middle East and North Africa, one of them is Islamic State.” ISIS is “not Islamic...no religion condones the killing of innocents...and they’re certainly not a state,” he added.
He further noted that the airstrikes he recently approved against IS targets in Iraq have protected American interests, killed members of ISIS and have helped the Iraqi government regain territories taken by ISIS.
"So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, [ISIS] through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy," said Obama.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the two countries would continue to cooperate diplomatically and militarily in the wake of US President Barack H. Obama's speech Wednesday night laying out a strategy for fighting ISIS, the Islamist terror group that has conquered large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Despite Herzog's complain, speaking to Israel Radio, Shapiro said that the intelligence services of both countries were already in contact about the issue, and would cooperate in beating back the ISIS threat. Israel is an important American partner in the Middle East, Shapiro said, and would by extension be an important part of the fight against ISIS.