Diplomacy

Bolton Assures Netanyahu that Syria Withdrawal Will Not Put Israel, Allies in “Jeopardy”

On a state visit to Israel, John Bolton, the National Security Adviser of the United States, assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the proposed withdrawal of American troops from Syria will be gradual and will not put Israel or other U.S. allies in “jeopardy,” The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Bolton said that the U.S. had certain “objectives” that must be met before withdrawing its forces from Syria.

When he spoke at a press conference with Netanyahu, Bolton elaborated on what those objectives were. He said that “the defense of Israel and other friends in the region is absolutely assured,” that the Kurds and other allies would be protected, and that the U.S. would “make sure ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again.”

While in Israel, Bolton visited the Western Wall accompanied by Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer. In addition to visiting the Jewish holy site, Bolton took a tour of the nearby tunnels.

Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat blasted the visit, saying that Bolton’s presence at the Wall “will only lead to lawlessness.”

Bolton wrote of his visit to the holy site, “A great accomplishment to uncover all of this history, from the very start of our common civilization.”

A month ago, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended a celebration of the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at the Western Wall and observed that it was the first time that an Israeli prime minister had ever been at the site with a senior U.S. official.

Aside from the symbolic importance of a top U.S. official visiting the Western Wall, Bolton repeatedly emphasized the closeness of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

“We now have the best U.S.-Israel relationship in our history, and on our side we’re certainly determined to continue that,” Bolton said at a joint appearance with Netanyahu. Bolton added that if “any nation,” whether it was located in the Middle East or not, has “any doubt about America’s support for Israel’s self-defense,” that nation “had better think about it again.”

 

The Times of Israel reported that a week ago, a senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu had asked Trump to delay the withdrawal from Syria. Subsequently, The New York Times reported that the president had agreed to stagger the troop withdrawal over a four-month period, rather than immediately as he had originally stated.

In the course of their joint appearance, Netanyahu asked Bolton for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. “It’s important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said, adding that he’d discussed the matter with President Trump. However, a planned trip with Bolton to the Golan Heights was canceled due to the weather.

On Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R – Ark.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R – Texas) issued a joint statement calling on the U.S. to recognize Isreali sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Last month, the two senators introduced a joint resolution for the Senate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]