Photo Credit: Haim Zach (GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, June 23, 2019.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton. The PM said, “John, it’s wonderful to see you again in Israel. You have been a great friend of Israel for many years and a personal friend of mine for many years. And you have been an outstanding champion of the American-Israel alliance. That alliance is at an all-time high. I think it’s reached unprecedented heights under the leadership of President Trump, and I think that America has no greater friend than Israel; and Israel has no greater friend and ally than the United States.”

Bolton said on Sunday that Iran should not “mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness.” Standing next to the Prime Minister, Bolton said no one has granted Iran a “hunting license in the Middle East,” and suggested that the new economic sanctions being imposed on Iran would continue, stressing that President Trump had only “stopped the strike from going forward at this time” against Iran.

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Netanyahu added: “I want to state this very clearly: The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of cash, massive cash into Iran’s economy, would moderate Iran. They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the opposite has happened. The very opposite has happened. Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire-building, not nation-building – that is the stamping of one state after the other, and the devouring of one state after another in the Middle East. Those who argue that Iran’s aggression began after the recent actions are not living on the same planet. This is completely false.

“We in Israel saw Iran’s aggression in their increased efforts to establish Iranian military bases in Syria, in their increased efforts to provide sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, in their increased financial support for terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This increased right after the deal, right after the deal. With the removal of sanctions, we in Israel could see an explosion of terror and aggression. Likewise, our Arab neighbors saw exactly the same thing. They saw Iran’s aggression in Iran’s increased support for terror groups that threaten them, from the Shiite militias in Iraq to the Houthis in Yemen.

“Well before Iran’s act of aggression of recent weeks, such as the attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone, Iranian forces fired dozens of rockets into Israeli territories, and flew drones into Israeli airspace. Iran also fired rockets deep into Saudi Arabia, and through their proxies, endangered international shipping lanes. This is all months and years ago. After the deal but before recent events, Iran has been on a campaign of aggression.

“Those who describe the recent actions as somehow opening a hornet’s nest are living on another planet. In fact, the one thing that has changed for those of us who live in the Middle East is not that Iran is attacking its neighbors or brazenly perpetrating wanton aggression. What’s new is that now, thanks to crippling American sanctions, Iran is facing unprecedented economic pressure as a result of its aggression. So I was pleased to hear President Trump make clear yesterday that pressure will continue and that pressure will increase.

“I look forward to discussing this and other issues that affect the stability of our region with you, Mr. Bolton, John. I also want to thank you for your willingness to participate on Tuesday in a historic meeting that will bring together the national security advisors of the United States, Russia and Israel. The mere fact that such a high-level meeting is taking place between the great powers – the United States of America and Russia – here in Israel I think is unprecedented. It speaks loudly about the nature of Israel’s standing among the nations, and in this case among two of the greatest nations on earth.

“I hope and expect that this dialogue will be fruitful. I’m confident that it’s possible to both find common ground and chart a path forward that will help promote security and stability in the region, particularly in Syria,” Netanyahu concluded.

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