At Friday’s State Department press conference, spokesman Mark Toner was asked again about the U.S. commitment to get Israel involved in the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which will be meeting again on December 13 without Israel. Reporter Matt Lee asked Toner “what exactly the Administration has done … since the last [GCTF] meeting, when you all said that you were going to try to get [Israel] included in this group, or at least some of this group’s work.”
Toner responded that “we’ve succeeded and agreed with our partners in the GCTF to have this issue as a formal agenda item on the – at the December 13 meeting.” That produced this colloquy:
QUESTION: Okay. What exactly is it that’s on the agenda? I mean, what is – can you say what —
MR. TONER: To have this issue discussed about —
QUESTION: Israel’s participation as a full – in the — …
MR. TONER: That the GCTF needs to develop more concrete policies on the involvement of non-members.
Lee asked whether the agenda item is specifically about Israel, and Toner said no: it’s about all non-members, although “certainly, Israel would be included” in this category. OK, but is the agenda item at least about how non-members can become members?
MR. TONER: No. On how to get them involved. As I talked about, this is about mobilizing the best and the brightest strategists from around the world.
QUESTION: Okay … Is membership closed? Is it full? Can no one else get in?
MR. TONER: I’m not aware that membership is closed in this organization. What we’ve been working towards … is getting Israel, with its expertise, with its experience, involved in some of the activities that this group’s involved with.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to join or you’re pushing for them for full membership?
MR. TONER: It does not necessarily assume membership, but we want to see their expertise reflected.
Lee then summed up the colloquy with this exchange:
QUESTION: So I guess then my quick question is just is the agenda item that you’re talking about being – it does not anticipate or does not get into whether non-members can actually become members?
MR. TONER: No. What we’re talking about here is the issue of participation of non-members, including Israel, in these kinds of events.
So we’ve gotten the GCTF, which we co-formed and co-chair, to agree to an agenda item that does not mention Israel; does not anticipate Israel becoming a member; will not be the occasion for pushing Israel for membership; is simply a discussion about how 163 non-member countries, at some point in the future, might get involved in “some of the activities” of the GCTF; and we have announced this as a success.