On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton for Washington’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights Sunday.
Netanyahu stressed Israel’s right over the Golan Heights at a joint press conference with Bolton, a day after the latter arrived in Israel, according to a report on Ynet News.
The Golan Heights is the area captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War, territory which Israel effectively annexed in 1981.
“Tomorrow, if whether permits, we will go up to the Golan Heights, it is tremendously important for our security. When you are there, you’ll be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights and why it is important that all countries recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights…Welcome friend,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu turned to Bolton, and thanked Washington for its unequivocal support of Israel.
“Your visit has given us an opportunity to do two things,” Netanyahu said. “First, it has given us an opportunity to thank the Trump administration for their extraordinary support. Secondly, the president decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the embassy to Jerusalem—a historic decision which we welcome.”
“Third, you’ve unequivocally backed Israel at the United Nations, which is deeply appreciated by Israelis around the world. You have backed both in words and deeds Israel’s right to defend itself,” he added.
According to a Washington official, Bolton arrived in Israel to allay Israel’s concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
“We now have the best US-Israeli relationship in our history,” Bolton said during the joint press conference with Netanyahu. He also said that Washington is “determined” to keep it that way because the two nations need a “strong bond” and “strong leadership” in increasingly tumultuous times for security.
Bolton added: “We’ve got the continuing threat of Iran’s quest for deliverable nuclear deal, and despite getting out of the Iranian nuclear deal and despite the sanctions, we have little doubt that Iran is strategically committed to achieving deliverable nuclear weapons, United States and Israel are strategically committed to making sure that doesn’t happen.”
Washington would do its best to provide security to Israel and its other “friends in the region,” Bolton told Netanyahu. “I would just say to any nation whether in this region or not in this region that has any doubt about America’s support for Israel’s self-defense: you’d better think about it again,” he said.
Bolton also raised US concerns over China’s creeping role in Israel’s critical infrastructure, particularly its upcoming management of Haifa Port, a frequent dock for the US Sixth Fleet, according to a Jerusalem Post report.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, senior Israeli officials told the JPost recently that they are aware of Washington’s concerns and are working to address them, according to the JPost report.
“The State of Israel is dealing with all aspects connected to the establishment and management of infrastructure by foreign companies in Israel,” Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, who pioneered the project and is also a member of the security cabinet, said.
Israeli officials have also confirmed that the government is reviewing how to ensure that Chinese construction and management of the port does not adversely impact ties with the US. The Americans are said to be concerned that China will use the port to improve its standing in the Middle East and potentially gather intelligence on US interests.
The US has recently assured Tel Aviv of its continuous support. Less than a week ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also reaffirmed to Netanyahu that the US would still stand by Israel’s side and its commitment to the “protection” of the Jewish State remains unchanged despite its planned pullout from the neighboring Syria.
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