Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he supports President Obama’s plan to fight the Islamic State group and that Israel will do whatever it can to participate in the coalition.
“We are ready to support and help in every way that we’re asked, but these are things we don’t discuss necessarily on TV,” Mr. Netanyahu said on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” declining to provide details about the type of assistance Israel might provide.
U.S. Central Command announced that it conducted six airstrikes in Iraq on Saturday. Despite a more aggressive coalition air campaign, the Islamic State publicly lined up six Iraqi soldiers against a wall in the Anbar province city of Hit and shot them in the head.
Mr. Netanyahu said the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, “absolutely” poses a threat to Israel and has to be defeated — though he pointed out that the terrorist group is not the only threat in the region.
“The difference between ISIS and Hamas and ISIS and Iran and so on is they all agree that the world should be an Islamist hill, but they all want to be, each of them wants to be the king of the hill,” he said.
Mr. Netanyahu said Iran poses an even greater threat because it has much more money and is working to obtain nuclear weapons.
“If you think ISIS is dangerous and should be defeated, as I do, and I completely support President Obama’s effort and leadership in this regard, then think how much more dangerous Iran is,” the Israeli leader said.
Some lawmakers are not as supportive of the president’s plan, especially Mr. Obama’s promise to not put American boots on the ground. Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the U.S. needs to send service members to the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State before the terrorist group becomes too strong, especially because of the time it takes to train Iraqi forces.
“There is no way I can see to fix the problem in Iraq and Syria without American ground troops,” he said on CNN. “You need boots on the ground, and these are human beings with hopes and dreams.”
Mr. Graham said it will take too long to make progress against the terrorist group if U.S. troops are not involved on the ground, and that the Islamic State otherwise will only strengthen.
“The job of the commander in chief is to protect the country,” he said. “I think most Americans understand that if we don’t defeat [the Islamic State], if they survive our best shot, we are not as safe.”
Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said the president’s plan makes sense to use American air power and better train Iraqi forces to fight on the ground.
“Effective Iraqi military forces on the ground would actually be more effective than a short-term introduction of American forces. I think the most effective way to use the best aspects of both countries is our superior power in the air, our intelligence,” he said. “And make sure to get the Iraqi forces up to speed so they can be effective on the ground.”
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.