Rivlin is always happy to welcome visitors to “Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the eternal capital of the Jewish People,” but in Bolton’s case, it was also with the knowledge that Bolton is “a great friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.”
Rivlin told Bolton how much he appreciated all that he has done to date for Israel, “and we know that you’re going to do more.”
It was not mere lip service. Bolton came to Jerusalem in July last year to receive the Guardian of Zion award from Bar Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies for fostering relations between the United States and Israel.
He has spoken up for Israel at American and international forums, and has been a guest speaker at the annual Herzliya Conference.
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When notified that he had been selected for the Guardian of Zion award, Bolton said it was a pleasure to be recognized for his long time support of Jerusalem and the Jewish People. He had also commented that for years he had urged the United States to locate its embassy in Jerusalem “which would signify to the rest of the world that Jerusalem rightly belongs to the Jewish People.” He noted that moving the embassy was a meaningful step that would symbolize America’s solidarity with Israel “which faces threats from ISIS, Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism.”
It was also significant that the meeting took place in Rivlin’s private office and not in the reception room where he usually greets foreign dignitaries. The office is more intimate and less formal.
Bolton said that it was a great honor to meet Rivlin in Jerusalem, and underscored that the meeting was taking place during challenging times for both the United States and Israel. He also reiterated the strong alliance and friendship between the two countries – not only between the governments, but also between the people.
Most of the discussion between Rivlin and Bolton centered on regional security issues, on the situation in Gaza and on relations between Israel and the Palestinians.
With regard to Iran, Rivlin said that Israel is closely monitoring all attempts by Iran to inflict harm on Israel, to destabilize the region and to continue developing nuclear armaments.
In this context he spoke of the Iranian presence in Syria and Lebanon, the supply of sophisticated weapons and money to Hezbollah and Hamas, and the building up of Shi’ite militias.
The State of Israel is adamant in its decision to use all means at its disposal to neutralize these threats to its security, said Rivlin. It is imperative to remove Iranian forces from the region, he insisted, and the international community must realize this and work towards it.
Rivlin also lauded America’s breakaway from the Iran deal and declared that in so doing, America had opened a window of opportunity for imposing economic sanctions on Iran in order to curb Iran’s effectiveness.
Rivlin spoke in detail of the economic measures that Israel is willing to take to avert further crisis in Gaza, but cannot implement these ideas, he said, because any economic aid provided by Israel would by diverted by Hamas to strengthen military power and terrorist activities.
Rivlin was certain that stability with regard to security, coupled with the quieting of hostilities could be achieved alongside efforts to relieve the economic distress of the citizens of Gaza.
Every international effort towards this aim was vital, he said.
Rivlin also stressed that when the world asks Israel to take a more humanitarian stance towards the people of Gaza, it cannot at the same time turn a blind eye to what Hamas is doing.
The basic humanitarian need, he continued, is for Hamas to release the remains of the two IDF soldiers that it has been holding for four years, and also to release the two Israeli civilians in captivity. This issue will remain consistently on the Israel agenda until it is resolved, he said.