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Israelis, Palestinians react differently to Bolton appointment as US national security advisor

This file photo taken on February 24, 2017 shows former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Maryland, the United States. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli and Palestinian officials have expressed different reactions to US President Donald Trump’s decision to name hardliner John Bolton as his new national security advisor.

Ministers from the far-right Jewish Home political party together with the ruling right-wing Likud hailed the selection of the former American ambassador to the United Nations, who is known for his strong support for the Tel Aviv regime and his hostility to Iran.

“President Trump is continuing to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions. John Bolton stands out among them,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party said in a statement on Friday.

“The Trump administration is turning out to be the most friendly administration to Israel ever,” she added.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads Jewish Home, wrote in a tweet that Bolton was “an extraordinary security expert, experienced diplomat and a stalwart friend of Israel.”

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo by The Times of Israel)

Environment Minister Zeev Elkin of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud political party also told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM that Bolton was “unquestionably a friend of Israel for many years, including in his position as US ambassador to the United Nations.”

Palestinian officials, on the other hand, reacted angrily, with Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denouncing Trump's Thursday choice, who replaces Herbert Raymond McMaster.

“This man has a long history of hostility to Palestinians, dating to when he was at the United Nations, where he was protecting Israeli immunity,” Ashrawi said.

This file photo shows Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

She added the Trump administration “has joined with extremist Zionists, fundamentalist Christians and white racists” with Bolton's appointment.

“All this will lead to a devastating reality for Palestine and the region,” Ashrawi commented.

Bolton once said the idea of a so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.

“We should look to a 'three-state' approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty,” the sharp-tongued and controversial US ambassador to the UN during George W. Bush's administration wrote in The Washington Post in 2009.

He added, “Any two-state solution based on the PA (Palestinian Authority) is stillborn.”

Bolton has also praised Trump's decision on December 6 last year to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, and to transfer the US embassy to the occupied city from Tel Aviv.

“We've been living in a delusion by not acknowledging the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital,” he tweeted.

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