JERUSALEM — US National Security Advisor John Bolton arrived in Israel on a trip intended to calm Israeli and regional fears over the pending US troop withdrawal from Syria.
In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bolton hailed the close ties between the US and Israel.
“Prime Minister under your leadership with President Trump we now have the best US-Israel relationship in our history and on our side we're certainly determined to continue that,” Bolton said.
Bolton arrived against the backdrop of President Trump’s decision to pull 2,000 US troops out of Syria.
"Right on your border we have the problem of the conflict in Syria. We're going to be discussing the president's decision to withdraw but to do so from northeast Syria in a way that makes sure that ISIS is defeated and is not able to revive itself and become a threat again," Bolton said.
Trump's announcement created concern in Israel and fear among the Kurds, a US ally who has fought ISIS. Bolton made clear that the US would take care of its friends.
"And to make sure that the defense of Israel and our other friends in the region is absolutely assured, and to take care of those who have fought with us against ISIS and other terrorist groups," he added.
Netanyahu thanked Bolton for President Trump's support for Israel and offered to show him Israel's northern border with Syria on the Golan Heights.
"The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security. I think that when you're there you will be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights and why it's important that all countries recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights," said Netanyahu.
Israel captured the Golan Plateau during the last two days of the 1967 Six-Day War. Now, Iran is trying to take up positions along that border.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold says that’s not good for Israel.
“Iran has ambitions to build a huge highway across Syria and across Iraq so that it can move troops from the Iranian border into Syria towards Lebanon and the Golan Heights,” Gold told CBN News.
“Israel is concerned that this pullout could open the corridor that the Iranians so desperately want to build,” Gold said.
For now, the pullout seems to be on hold, but Israel and the region are waiting to see what President Trump's next move will be.