Amid Iran Outreach and Bolton Ouster, Top Trump Ally on Capitol Hill Says US Commitment to Israel ‘as Strong as Ever’
Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) said on Wednesday the US commitment to Israel was “as strong as ever” despite American overtures to Iran and the abrupt departure of President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton.
“I just met with the ambassador for Israel [Ron Dermer] just a few minutes ago,” Meadows told The Algemeiner on Wednesday morning.
“I think that the bond between this president and the Jewish people and Israel is as strong as ever, regardless of whether they view John Bolton’s departure as a good thing or a bad thing,” he added.
Dermer was seen on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, according to multiple sources.
Meadows, when asked whether a change in American policy toward Iran will influence the US-Israel relationship, said that “the disagreement between John Bolton and the president was not over Israel policy, per se.”
The North Carolina lawmaker is described as one of the closest allies of President Trump in the House of Representatives and his meeting with Dermer followed public appearances at the Israeli Embassy Tuesday night by key administration officials involved in US Middle East policy — including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, newly-appointed Middle East peace negotiator Avi Berkowitz and Trump’s soon-to-be former special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt.
It is unclear if Bolton’s sudden firing or resignation — depending on which side you ask — will create tension between the US and Israel over the best way to counter the nuclear threat from the Tehran regime.
In London last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed resigned to a potential future meeting between Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.
“A meeting between Trump and Rouhani is a possibility,” Netanyahu said, according to an Axios report. “I don’t tell the president of the U.S. who he should meet and who he shouldn’t meet. But I am sure that Trump will take a much more open-eyed and a tougher stance against Iran.”
Shortly after Trump announced Bolton’s departure by tweet on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the president was prepared to meet Rouhani without “preconditions” when the two are in New York for the United Nations General Assembly later this month.
Meadows said he was “not in favor of that.”
“It takes on a totally different perspective, from my point of view, and the message it sends,” as opposed to the president meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he asserted.
“You only negotiate with someone who shows the capacity to be willing to meet in the middle and the Iranian regime has not shown that, does not show that and will not show that in the future,” Meadows stated.
Asked if Trump appreciated the congressman’s position, Meadows said he was not advising on policy toward Iran, but expressed support for the president’s decision-making process.
“One of the things I’ve learned not to do is to underestimate the presidents understanding of foreign policy based on a few comments of what may or may not happen,” Meadows noted. “It’s a lot more complex than that.”