Israel skips U.S.-hosted counterterrorism meeting


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel did not attend the inaugural meeting of a counterterrorism forum established by the United States.

The Israeli business daily Globes reported Monday that Israel was not invited to the meeting because of objections by Turkey, while Israel’s Foreign Ministry told the Times of Israel that it is "not estranged" from the forum.

The Global Counterterrorism Forum held its first meeting June 8 in Istanbul. Established last September by the Obama administration, the forum is made up of 29 members, according to Globes, 10 of which are Arab countries: Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Asked by a reporter whether Israel has requested membership in the forum or whether the United States, as a co-host of the forum, has sought to get Israel involved, a U.S. State Department spokesman replied that "Our idea with the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) was to bring together a limited number of traditional donors, front-line states, and emerging powers to 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."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Times of Israel that the Israeli government will participate in working groups formed by the forum, and said that Israel had not been planning on attending last week’s meeting.

In May, Turkey blocked Israel’s participation in the NATO summit in Chicago.

Turkey and Israel have broken off diplomatic relations and military agreements since the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla incident.

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