President Donald Trump said he would back Israel if it used military force against Iran, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton claims in his new book.
Bolton, who served for 17 months as Trump’s NSA, claims in his new 592-page book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, that he urged the president not to try to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and instead focus his efforts in the Middle East to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon.
In part, Bolton called on Trump to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, hinting that it might be necessary to use force to prevent Tehran from gaining nuclear weapons.
"I warned Trump against wasting political capital in an elusive search to solve the Arab-Israeli dispute and strongly supported moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing it as Israel’s capital," Bolton wrote. "On Iran, I urged that he press ahead to withdraw from the nuclear agreement and explained why the use of force against Iran’s nuclear program might be the only lasting solution."
During the discussion, which took place in 2017, before Bolton was appointed National Security Advisor, Trump is said to have sent a message via Bolton to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, endorsing Israel’s use of force against Iran.
“You tell Bibi that if he uses force, I will back him. I told him that, but you tell him again,” Trump told Bolton, according to the yet-to-be published book.
Bolton also described an October 2018 conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said that Israel would likely not attack Iran.
"Israel, he said, could not conduct military action against Iran alone because it didn't have the resources or capabilities, especially if the Arabs united behind Iran, which was preposterous," Bolton wrote.
Bolton also claimed that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had blocked Netanyahu from contacting Trump in August 2019 during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
Netanyahu, who had been concerned by reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had been invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to the summit in order to meet with President Trump to discuss easing tensions between the two countries, had attempted to speak with Trump, only to have his call blocked, Bolton claimed.
“By then I had an e-mail from Pompeo, who had again spoken to Netanyahu. Netanyahu had heard about the possible Zarif meeting and was pressing to call Trump at five thirty p.m. Biarritz time, which was fast approaching. After arriving at the hotel, I spoke again with Pompeo while waiting to meet Trump in his suite. I told him I would do what I could about Netanyahu’s call, but I was determined to make one more effort to talk Trump out of meeting with Zarif. Netanyahu and Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer were also calling me, so I asked Pompeo to tell them I felt like the Light Brigade, outcome TBD. On Trump’s floor, I found Mulvaney and Kushner.”
“Kushner was on the phone to David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel, telling Friedman that he was not going to allow Netanyahu’s call to go through. (Now we knew who was stopping all those calls to Trump!) When he hung up, Kushner explained he had stopped this and an earlier effort by Netanyahu because he didn’t think it was appropriate for a foreign leader to talk to Trump about whom he should speak to.”
The book is set to be released on Tuesday, after a federal court judge ruled on Saturday that the book can be published, rejecting a petition by the Justice Department, which had sued to block the book’s release claiming it contains classified information and that Bolton violated a non-disclosure agreement by writing the book.
Bolton penned the book after he was fired last September, taking frequent jabs at his former boss, describing Trump as “erratic” and “foolish” and claiming he behaved “irrationally” and “bizarrely”. “You can’t leave him alone for a minute.”
In one excerpt of the book released on Wednesday, Bolton claims that Trump “pleaded” with China’s Xi Jinping during a 2019 summit to help his reelection prospects.
In sections of the book released Wednesday and published by CNN, Bolton further claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu felt serious concerns regarding Trump’s selection of his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner to head up a team charged with drafting the administration’s Middle East peace plan. The claims were rejected by Netanyahu on Thursday.
Last week, Trump blasted Bolton as a “sick puppy” in a series of tweets.
During an interview with ABC News, Bolton said President Trump is not ‘fit for office’ and doesn’t ‘have the competence’ to serve as president.