The State Department struggled again yesterday to explain why — a month after the U.S. committed itself to having Israel included in the “Global Counterterrorism Forum” (which Secretary Clinton formed last year and which the U.S. co-chairs with Turkey) — Israel was excluded from the Monday conference of the Forum, which 29 other nations attended.
QUESTION: … going back to the question I raised yesterday about the Global Counterterrorism Forum … did you get an answer on that?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, as we said at the time, Matt, that our idea with the Global Counterterrorism Forum was to bring together a limited number of traditional donors, frontline states, and emerging powers to develop a more robust yet representative counterterrorism capacity-building platform. A number of our close partners with considerable experience counting and – countering and preventing terrorism are not included among the GCTF’s founding members. We’ve discussed the GCTF and ways to involve Israel and its activities on a number of occasions, and we’re committed to making this happen. [Emphasis added].
QUESTION: Okay. That last line is exactly what was in the taken question from, I believe, June 8. Can you say –
MR. VENTRELL: And that’s exactly where we are today.
QUESTION: Okay. What was done between then and this last meeting, which was just yesterday? … I’m just wondering what did the CT Bureau or whoever’s in charge of this do in the interim to get Israel included?
MR. VENTRELL: We continued to discuss it with the GCTF. …
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’d just like to know what you did in the interim between June 8 and July 9 to work on this, on your commitment to getting Israel involved.
MR. VENTRELL: I imagine it was raised at a number of different levels, but let me check for you, Matt, and get back to you.
Hopefully Matt Lee will return to the subject once again in today’s press conference, and hopefully the Department spokesperson will have a more informative answer than “I imagine it was raised at a number of different levels.”
Jonathan Tobin discussed the substantive aspects of this latest sign of the administration’s approach toward Israel, and Mannie Sherberg’s analysis at Boker tov, Boulder! is also worth reading. And here’s another question: why is getting answers to questions about Israel from this administration always like pulling teeth?