Israel says it must keep military on West Bank

TEL AVIV — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Sunday that Israel would have to maintain a long-term military presence in the West Bank to keep a jihadi juggernaut from powering its way to the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu also called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan as part of a broader alliance with moderate forces across the region.

Netanyahu laid out his positions in a policy speech that marked one of the most detailed responses by a world leader to the lightning territorial gains made in recent weeks by Sunni extremists fighting in Iraq, and it underscored how profoundly events can ripple across an increasingly interlocked Middle East.


There was no immediate reaction from Iraq or the United States. The international community, including neighboring Turkey as well as the United States and other Western countries, opposes the breakup of Iraq.

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Netanyahu suggested that the territorial gains made this month by the Al Qaeda-inspired jihadi group called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could endanger neighboring Jordan, with which Israel has a peace agreement it considers vital to its security.

The group has recently captured wide swaths of Iraq including the important cities of Mosul and Tikrit and several border crossings with Syria, and on Sunday formally declared a caliphate, or an Islam-ruled state, on territory it controls in both countries.

The offensive by the Islamic State’s militants ‘‘can be aimed toward Jordan in the shortest time,’’ Netanyahu warned. Without stating outright that the Western-leaning Jordanian monarchy could fall, Netanyahu suggested as much by saying that the new developments meant a need for Israel to hold on to the West Bank border with the Hashemite kingdom, along the Jordan River.

‘‘We must be able to stop the terrorism and fundamentalism that can reach us from the east at the Jordan line, and not in the suburbs of Tel Aviv,’’ he said, implying radicals could sweep from Jordan through the West Bank, whose borders reach within 20 miles of Tel Aviv.