Liberman thanks US for giving Israel ‘room to maneuver’ against enemies
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Liberman thanks US for giving Israel ‘room to maneuver’ against enemies

Defense minister shows John Bolton map of Hamas attack tunnels destroyed by Israel, praises ‘supportive’ administration

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) meets with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Jerusalem on August 20, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) meets with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Jerusalem on August 20, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met Monday with US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton in Jerusalem, and praised the Trump administration for giving Israel “significant maneuvering room” to operate against its enemies.

The two met in Jerusalem following Bolton’s meeting earlier in the day with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the two bemoaned the “wretched” Iran nuclear deal and called for stepped-up global pressure on Tehran to curb its military activities

According to Liberman’s office, he and Bolton discussed a range of security issues, among them Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“We have a very supportive president in the White House and a very supportive administration and this gives us significant maneuvering room vis a vis our enemies to the north and south,” Liberman’s office quoted him as saying.

“Thank you John for your great contribution to Israel’s national security,” he told Bolton.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) meets with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Jerusalem on August 20, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

On his Facebook account, Liberman wrote he showed Bolton a map of all the underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip destroyed by Israel.

“This is a tremendous operational intelligence accomplishment that was achieved thanks to the creative genius of the members of the security establishment,” he wrote in Hebrew.

Jerusalem has for years accused Hamas, the Palestinian terror group which controls Gaza and openly seeks to destroy Israel, of digging tunnels into Israeli territory to carry out terror attacks.

Earlier, Bolton told Netanyahu that the United States sees the “highest importance” in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that’s why Trump withdrew from the deal negotiated by the Obama administration and was reapplying stiff sanctions.

Bolton has been a strident critic of the nuclear deal and has pushed for greater pressure on Tehran to ensure it halts its support for terror groups in the Middle East and stops development of ballistic missiles. A former ambassador to the United Nations under president George W. Bush, Bolton is a longtime hawkish advocate for Israel.

Bolton said Washington was working to convince European allies “of the need to take stronger steps against the Iranian nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.”

US National Security Adviser John Bolton (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of their meeting in Jerusalem, August 20, 2018 (PMO screenshot)

Bolton was on his first visit to Israel since he replaced H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser in April. Following his trip to Israel, Bolton will travel to Ukraine and Geneva, where he will follow up with Russian officials on Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month in Helsinki.

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