Yesterday — for the third time this week — AP reporter Matt Lee asked the State Department spokesperson what the U.S. had done to meet its June 8 commitment to include Israel in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which the U.S. established and co-chairs.
Monday, the spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the issue; Tuesday, he was unable to provide any details; yesterday, Lee pitched the question again:
QUESTION: So I’m led to believe that you have an answer to my question about Israel and the Global Counterterrorism Cooperation Forum or whatever it’s called?
MR. VENTRELL: I do, Matt.
MR. VENTRELL: We believe that Israel would make a valuable contribution to the Global Counterterrorism Forum. We have raised the issue of Israeli participation in relevant GCTF activities with a number of GCTF partners at very senior levels. We will continue to do so as we move forward. Our discussion with Israel concerning the GCTF – our discussions have focused on Israeli participation and relevant activities to allow Israel to share its counterterrorism expertise with CT practitioners from GCTF-member and other countries.
So the U.S. has “raised the issue,” and “will continue to do.” The spokesperson added that “our strong hope” is that Israel will be involved in a working group, and then “potentially become a full member.” Lee’s follow-up confirmed that Israel has not yet participated in the GCTF.
The administration’s third-try answer begged three obvious questions: Why wasn’t Israel included in the GCTF originally? Why wasn’t it included in the 29-nation GCTF conference this week, notwithstanding the U.S. raising the issue “at very senior levels”? How did the specific pre-conference commitment become only a post-conference “hope”? Perhaps Lee or some other reporter should give this a fourth try.