|July 10, 2012 State Department Briefing:|
QUESTION: All right. And then going back to the question I raised yesterday about the Global Counterterrorism Forum --
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- 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. QUESTION: Okay. That last line is exactly what was in the taken question from, I believe, June 8th. 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? There was a month span there, and I realize that diplomacy can move slowly. What did you do in the interim period there to get Israel involved? Because it’s my understanding that Israel very much wants to be involved in this and perhaps – and it certainly is a frontline state, as you said yesterday --
MR. VENTRELL: Yep.
QUESTION: -- that it has been the victim of terrorism and has been extremely successful in combating it as well, I think. So other frontline states that you mentioned who were left out – I’m not aware that they have evinced any interests – or any particular interest – in joining this group, so Israel has, so 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: Does that mean that it’s a problem at the co-chair?
MR. VENTRELL: No. It means we’re continuing the discussion, and you know where our position is on this, and we’re working with our partners, and I don’t have anything --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’d just like to know what you did in the interim between June 8th and July 9th 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.
QUESTION: Okay. Because if you have done something, it suggests that there’s some opposition to them joining this, and that opposition – there’s a lot of speculation that opposition would come from the co-chair of this group, which is Turkey.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, let me find out at what levels we raised it and get back to you after the briefing, Matt.
QUESTION: Thank you.
July 12, 2012 State Department Briefing:
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.
QUESTION: Do you know – just as a corollary to that, you have raised it at very senior levels with other member --
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Has there been an opposition?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not aware one way or another. I know that we continue to raise it. And one example, for instance, is that the GCTF’s terms of reference leave open the possibility for including Israel in relevant activities of the GCTF’s five working groups. So that’s one way to start their participation, so that’s one thing that we’ve raised. And our strong hope is that they’ll be involved first in one or more of the working groups and then potentially become a full member.
QUESTION: But they haven’t participated in it yet to this --
MR. VENTRELL: Not yet. But --
QUESTION: And so I guess just the question is: Are you aware of opposition from any one of the existing members to Israel participating in the working groups or anything else?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not directly aware of the positions of the other members. What I do know is that it’s a relatively new forum. We started this just last September. The initial idea was that we had some of these core founding members and that additional members would be added as time goes on. So Israel is one potential member and there are a number of other countries that have expertise that could be really useful. And so we’ll continue to work with the members to see where that makes sense and where it can be beneficial to all members.