Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will back President Barack Obama’s call for a multilateral effort to hunt down Islamist State militants in Iraq and Syria.
“All civilized countries should stand together in the fight against radical terrorism that sweeps across the Middle East, that sweeps across the world,” he said in response to Obama’s recent televised address announcing authorized cross-border airstrikes against the militants.
Obama said a coalition of 40 nations have already joined together to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State group wherever it exists. Ten Arab governments announced their support following a meeting in Saudi Arabia attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Netanyahu said the fight against “Islamist terrorism” has spawned new alliances in the Middle East. Many Arab governments, he added, have realized that extremists from the Sunni branch of Islam pose as great a threat as those from the Shi’ite branch — a reference to the Shi’ite-dominated governments of Iran and Syria, along with their Lebanon-based Hezbollah allies.
“The two sides are of the same coin,” he said. “We don’t have to strengthen one to weaken the other. My policy is: Weaken both of them and, most importantly, don’t allow any of them to get weapons of mass destruction.”
The Syrian government has reportedly used chemical weapons against communities under control of Syrian rebels. Syria last year agreed to dispose of its chemical weapons, under the threat of U.S. air strikes against Damascus.
Israel and Western powers accuse Iranian officials of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran had repeated denied, insisting its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Negotiations have been underway for nine months in which Iran would curtail any nuclear weapons program in exchange for the phasing out of international sanctions against it. The talks are due to resume next week in New York.