High-level security meetings were convened in Israel and the US on Wednesday prior to US President Barack Obama’s address to the nation regarding the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with some of his government’s top security officials on Wednesday to discuss the risk of IS members infiltrating and establishing bases of operation in Israel, including Judea and Samaria. The discussion included legal measures the state could use to prevent IS from establishing a stronghold in Israel. In what is widely seen as a first step, IS was officially designated as a terrorist organization last week by the Israeli government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: Amos Ben Gershom GPO - speaking at the Begin Sadat center in Bar Ilan university, Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet security agency; Yohanan Danino, police commissioner; Yitzhak Aharonovitch, public security minister; Yehuda Weinstein, attorney general, and Tzipi Livni, justice minister, were among those present at the meeting.

Livni announced at an event later on Wednesday that she would introduce a bill in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) that “would allow the state to try any Israeli citizen who is a member of an armed terrorist organization with an extreme Islamic ideology, because that’s what must be done to defend Israel from terrorism. Terrorism will not be allowed in,” Ha’aretz reported.

A Clear and Present Danger

IS, Hamas and other terrorist groups “form a clear and present danger to our civilization, to our way of life, to our values,” Netanyahu told Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende in a meeting on Monday. Countries that fail to stop them now, he warned, would find the terrorists “at their doorsteps tomorrow.”

There may already be upwards of 100 IS sleeper cells operating in the US, according to reports, and IS operatives in Syria recently beheaded two American journalists (one of whom had dual US-Israeli citizenship).

The American military has been engaged in a campaign of targeted missile attacks against IS in Iraq and US President Barack Obama was scheduled to give a televised speech Wednesday evening – the night before the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against his country – to unveil a new strategy for combating IS.

Israelis Briefed in Washington

Yossi Cohen, Israel’s national security advisor, and Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence affairs minister, were in Washington on Wednesday, where they were to be briefed by senior White House and US State Department officials prior to Obama’s speech, according to Ha’aretz.

American officials have been building an international coalition – including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom – that will work together to fight IS, according to reports. While there has been no official announcement of Israeli membership in the coalition, it has been reported that Israel is already providing assistance to the US.

Author: Joanne Hill
Staff Writer, United with Israel