Before Prime Minister Netanyahu will leave for his European trip next week, he sent his national security advisor, Meir Ben Shabbat, to meet with Trump’s NSC director John Bolton. Once again Israel sought to insure that the U.S. and Israel were on the same page concerning the key issues likely to be raised by the European leaders.
Netanyahu has been under considerable criticism from all the key Western European leaders since he rallied behind Trump’ s withdrawal from the Iran agreement. These countries also protested Israel’s handling of the Gaza border protests killings as well as Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. As if now going into the lions’ den, Netanyahu sought assurances from Bolton.
The major areas of controversy with the leaders of Germany, France, and Great Britain include the possibility of fixing the Iran deal and Israel’s initiatives to control Hamas in Gaza to prevent further bloody confrontations. It is expected as well that the European States will be raising questions about Israel’s relations with Russia and how it will affect Russian and Iranian activities in Syria. Israel wants Europe’s support for any Israel incursions into Western Syria to prevent Syrian/Iranian expansion onto the Golan Heights. Finally, there will be discussions about Israel’s increased warming relationship with Saudi Arabia as the Saudis seek to contain additional Iranian influence in the Gulf.
What is unique in today’s global picture is that the White House is so close to the Netanyahu Government that there is virtually no daylight between them. In Europe there is much concern being raised with the approach of both Washington and Jerusalem to all these issues. As for Russia, the Israelis appear to be riding on the backs of Trump’s personal relationship with Putin. The Israelis are noticeably more tentative in their evaluation of any assurances of what Russian intentions truly are in Syria and Iran, excluding Russia’s obtaining of a warm water port.
The strength of the U.S.’s backing of Israel was further manifested this week at the United Nations. American Ambassador Nikki Haley requested the special meeting of the Security Council on Gaza to seek U.N. condemnation of Hamas’s shelling of Israeli settlements in Southern Israel. America’s initiative on behalf of Israel underscored the relationship which Netanyahu has secured with Trump. Earlier this month, the U.S. also had defended Israel’s action in Gaza at a Security Council meeting in which Israel’s violent response to Hamas’ Nakba demonstrations against the Israeli-Gaza border fence was challenged.
It could be a challenging week for the Israeli Prime Minister, but he goes with strong U.S. backing.