TEL AVIV: Israel's military said on Wednesday it was exploring the possibility of cooperating with the Lebanese army to counter jihadi militants, even though the two countries remain technically at war.
But any coordination is almost certain to be rejected in Lebanon, where Israel is by and large considered an enemy among all religious groups, and where dealing with Israel is a crime.
But a senior Israeli military officer noted that the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS jihadis in Iraq and Syria had brought together disparate forces, and said Israel might similarly expand on its current security ties with Egypt, Jordan and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
"If you all have a common enemy, it should be very easy to find common opportunities to try to fight it," the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told foreign reporters in a briefing.
"And I am looking and asking myself: Will the Lebanese Armed Forces play a positive or negative role?"
Asked if he was suggesting there could be cooperation, perhaps mediated, with Lebanon's armed forces, he said "Yes".
He declined to spell out whether contacts were under way, however: "I can't be too specific about that. I have to be very cautious about it, so I won't say any more than that."
Lebanon has been battling Syrian Sunni radicals in areas adjacent to its border with Syria.
At the same time as advocating cooperation with the Lebanese army, the Israeli officer voiced concern that advanced European weaponry destined for Beirut under a $3 billion Saudi aid package might "proliferate" to non-state forces, alluding to Hezbollah.