Israel: McMaster never defended Hezbollah

US, Israel repudiate claims Trump's National Security Advisor yelled at Israeli officials, argued Hezbollah is not a terror group.

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David Rosenberg,

H.R. McMaster
H.R. McMaster
Reuters

Staff from the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC and sources in the White House have pushed back on reports that a senior Trump administration official clashed with Israeli officials at a recent meeting, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

Last week, multiple media outlets including Israel’s Channel 10 and the conservative PJ Media claimed that President Trump’s National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, verbally attacked Israeli officials at an August 27th meeting.

During the meeting, McMaster allegedly yelled at members of an Israeli delegation which included Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, and Zohar Palti, who heads the Defense Ministry's political-security department.

An aide to McMaster, Senior Director on Counter-Terrorism Mustafa Javed Ali, it was claimed, denied that the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon is a terrorist organization, prompting Israeli officials to demand Ali’s removal from the meeting. McMaster reportedly defended Ali and his claim, shouting down the Israeli delegation and refusing their demand.

Officials from the Trump administration denied the report, with National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton telling Haaretz that McMaster “never yelled” at the Israeli delegation.

Anton also rejected the claim that McMaster or Ali disputed Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

"It is flatly wrong to say that either McMaster or Ali has any opposition to the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Neither has ever questioned that fact for second. In fact, McMaster has tasked the NSC staff with working on ideas for taking a more aggressive approach to Hezbollah."

Later, members of the Israeli mission in Washington DC confirmed Anton’s comment. Embassy spokesman Itai Bar Dov denied that members of the Israeli security delegation which met with McMaster requested Ali be removed from the meeting, and defended McMaster from claims he has made hostile moves towards Israel in recent months.

"Israel appreciates Gen. McMaster's efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Bar Dov.