U.S. President Donald Trump promised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he would have his backing if Israel decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to former national security adviser John Bolton.
The latest leak from Bolton’s new book The Room Where It Happened said the president’s assurance was relayed to the author in June 2017, and he was instructed to convey the message to Netanyahu. It was, wrote Bolton, actually a follow-up to a pledge of the same nature made to Netanyahu in earlier meetings.
“‘You tell Bibi [Netanyahu] that if he uses force, I will back him. I told him that, but you tell him again,’ Trump said, unprompted by me,” Bolton writes.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was skeptical about the possibility of Israel ever launching an attack on Iran.
“On Iran, he scoffed at our withdrawal from the nuclear deal, wondering, now that the United States had withdrawn, what would happen if Iran withdrew? Israel, he said, could not conduct military action against Iran alone because it didn’t have the resources or capabilities…
“I replied that Iran was not in compliance with the deal, noted the connection between Iran and North Korea on the reactor in Syria the Israelis had destroyed in 2007, and said we were carefully watching for evidence the two proliferators were cooperating even now,” wrote Bolton.
Bolton described some of the ups and downs in the U.S.-Israel alliance. Regarding President Trump’s surprise announcement of a withdrawal of troops from Syria, which dismayed Israeli officials, “Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer told me that this was the worst day he had experienced thus far in the Trump administration.”
In another revelation, Bolton said Netanyahu had sought to persuade Putin to agree to a permanent border between Israel’s Golan Heights and Syria.
“Putin made clear he was talking only about stiffening enforcement of the disengagement lines, not real ‘borders,’” he recalled.