Top Trump security aide Bolton to visit Israel next week
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Top Trump security aide Bolton to visit Israel next week

White House mum on agenda of upcoming trip by national security adviser known for hawkish views on Iran

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on March 29, 2014. President Donald Trump’s pick of Bolton for his next national security adviser stirred up the same burning question Friday in Washington as in anxious foreign capitals: Just how much will his hawkish, confrontational approach rub off on Trump? (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on March 29, 2014. President Donald Trump’s pick of Bolton for his next national security adviser stirred up the same burning question Friday in Washington as in anxious foreign capitals: Just how much will his hawkish, confrontational approach rub off on Trump? (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Top White House official John Bolton will visit Israel for talks next week, the Trump administration said Tuesday.

Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, will visit Israel as part of a trip that will also take him to Ukraine and Geneva, where he will follow up with Russian officials on Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Sanders did not elaborate and the White House did not return a request for comment.

There was no immediate confirmation from Jerusalem.

The trip to Israel will be the first for Bolton, seen as a pro-Israel hawk, since he was appointed to the role in March. At the time, government figures praised the choice, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett calling him a “stalwart friend of Israel.”

A former ambassador to the UN, Bolton is known for taking a hard line against Iran, and was seen as a central player in the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in May.

In the past he has advocated for Israel carrying out military strikes against Iran. In March, former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Bolton tried to convince him to carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran in the mid 2000s.

Botlon visited Israel as undersecretary of state under president George W. Bush in 2004, holding meetings about sanctions against Iran.

Then-Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, left, speaks with then-US Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, right, during their meeting in Jerusalem, September 12, 2004. (AP/Oded Balilty)

Bolton is highly defensive of Israel. After former president Barack Obama allowed passage of a UN Security Council resolution in December 2016 that condemned Israeli settlements, Bolton said Obama “stabbed Israel in the front” and that the measure was “clearly intended to tip the peace process toward the Palestinians.”

In a 2014 op-ed in the Washington Times titled “A ‘three-state solution’ for Middle East peace,” Bolton argued that Gaza should be given back to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan.

“The only logic underlying the demand for a Palestinian state is the political imperative of Israel’s opponents to weaken and encircle the Jewish state, thereby minimizing its potential to establish secure and defensible borders,” he wrote. “As long as Washington’s diplomatic objective is the ‘two-state solution’ — Israel and ‘Palestine’ — the fundamental contradiction between this aspiration and the reality on the ground will ensure it never comes into being.”

Eric Cortellessa and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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