WASHINGTON — A former arms control adviser to President Ronald Reagan told TMN that President Donald Trump’s decision to replace White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton may not be good for Israel.
“If getting into a war with Iran would help Israel, then, yes, he’s more pro-Israel,” Ken Adelman said of Bolton. “I’m not sure that’s such a winning development for Israel — or for us. Personally, I prefer to have no war with Iran, and Iran without — rather than with — nuclear weapons. Somehow, I think that’s best for Israel, and for us.”
McMaster had urged Trump not to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and to instead improve upon its framework. Bolton has lobbied against the deal and has in the past called for a regime change in Iran. The five-party agreement must be recertified in May. Bolton will replace McMaster on April 9.
The agreement places temporary restrictions on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, in exchange for sanctions relief. It does not restrict the regime’s ability to manufacture and test ballistic missiles, nor does it compel Tehran to cease financial support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.
Bolton served as U.N. ambassador for 16 months during the administration of President George W. Bush. Bolton is regarded as a neoconservative and a foreign policy hawk. During his tenure at the U.N., Bolton helped defeat general assembly resolutions that condemned Israeli military action and West Bank settlement expansion. He has been praised by right-leaning pro-Israel groups.
“Ambassador Bolton is a true patriot, with a long history of standing up to Iran and other rogue nations, and has demonstrated an ironclad commitment to our unshakable bond with Israel,” The Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement following news of Bolton’s appointment on Thursday evening. “Ambassador Bolton’s decades of foreign policy and diplomatic experience will serve him well in this important role. The RJC could not be prouder to have our friend, Ambassador John Bolton, as the next National Security Adviser.”
Bolton might be supportive of Israel but Adelman said West Bank settlement expansion may not be in the best interests of the Jewish State.
“Yes, supporting new Israeli settlements, rather than opposing them, is more pro-Israeli in the short term, rather than opposing them,” he said. “But it does nothing to solve Israel’s long-run quandary: How to remain a democratic, Jewish state in greater Israel. It can have any two elements, but not all three — being democratic, Jewish, with expanded territory.”
Adelman pondered the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and where Bolton fits in that scenario.
“Will there ever be a responsible Palestinian group with real power which wishes to govern rather than terrorize, build rather than tear down,” he asked. “And what can Israel, the U.S. and others do to encourage (not create) such an entity? I’d be startled if John Bolton ever thought about such an issue….”
Adelman served as director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1983-87. He is the author of “Reagan at Reykjavik.”