US excludes Israel from anti-terror forum because of Turkey
Israel tried hard to obtain an invitation to the Global Counterterrorism
Forum meeting, and its exclusion has greatly disappointed officials in
10 June 12 13:23, Ran Dagoni, Washington - Globes
The US blocked Israel's participation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum's
(GCTF) first meeting in Istanbul on Friday, even though Israel has one of
the most extensive experiences in counterterrorism in the world. A
pro-Israeli source in Washington told "Globes" that Israel was excluded from
the meeting because of fierce objections by Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Israel tried hard to obtain an invitation to the meeting, and its exclusion,
despite the tight US-Israeli intelligence ties, has greatly disappointed
officials in Jerusalem.
The GCTF, one of the pillars of President Barack Obama's antiterrorism
campaign, was established in September 2011. The White House calls the forum
as a wise use of force against terrorism, and chose Turkey as the forum's
joint chair, together with the US.
29 countries are participating in the GCTF, ten of which are Arab and/or
Muslim countries: Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Other members
include China, Russia, India, and Western European countries.
"The GCTF sought from the outset to bridge old and deep divides in the
international community between Western donor nations and Muslim majority
nations. And it has, I think, done that quite effectively," said a top US
official at the press briefing before the opening session.
Republican politicians claim that, since one third of the GCTF's members are
Muslim countries, the Obama administration is trying to deepen ties with the
Muslim world at Israel's expense.
In response to numerous questions about Israel's exclusion from the GCTF
session in Istanbul raised at a press conference yesterday, the State
Department opted to focus on the questions: Has Israel requested membership
to the Global Counterterrorism Forum? Has the United States, as a co-host of
the forum, sought to get Israel involved?
A State Department spokesman replied, "Our idea with the GCTF was to bring
together a limited number of traditional donors, front line states, and
emerging powers develop a more robust, yet representative, counterterrorism
capacity-building platform. A number of our close partners with considerable
experience countering and preventing terrorism are not included among the
GCTF’s founding members.
"We have discussed the GCTF and ways to involve Israel in its activities on
a number of occasions, and are committed to making this happen."
Pro-Israeli sources say that the Obama administration decided to ignore the
fact that Turkey, which has a key role in the GCTF, opposes calling Hamas a
terrorist organization, even though Hamas is included on the State
Department's list of terrorist organizations. In an interview with the US
media last May, Erdogan said that he did not consider Hamas a terrorist
organization, but as a resistance movement trying to protect its country
from occupation. He said that Hamas won elections in the Gaza Strip in 2006,
and that, therefore, calling it a terrorist organization was an insult to
the Palestinian people.
For its part, Turkey calls the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is
seeking to establish a Kurdish state in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq,
as a terrorist organization, and the US supports this position.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com -
on June 10, 2012