After meeting Netanyahu, the new American secretary of state makes it clear: “If Iran nuclear deal can’t be fixed, it will be nixed.”
By Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats toward Israel and the region.” Those words came from new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who made the Middle East his first trip abroad only a few days into the job.
Largely ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Pompeo met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at IDF military headquarters in Tel Aviv Sunday, where he vowed to “fix or nix” the “flawed’ Iran nuclear agreement, declaring that strong ties with allies like Israel are “critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world.”
Pompeo said Washington is also focusing on “non-nuclear threats” posed by the Islamic Republic, including its missile systems, support for Hezbollah, fighters in Syria and assistance to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
When Pompeo finally commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was to say, “The boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties,” and that Washington remains “committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”
Pompeo then added that the Trump administration is “incredibly proud” to open the new embassy in Jerusalem on May 14th, noting that “by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality.”
Lenny Ben David, a former leading official in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), told World Israel News (WIN), “Pompeo’s track record dating back to his time in Congress has been very positive toward Israel. His time in the CIA deepened his connection to Israeli intelligence, and he developed a strong appreciation for Israeli capabilities. He is intimately aware of Israelis sharing data with the US. I cannot remember anyone in such a high position in the US government who had a better understanding of Israeli security needs.”
Asked why he thinks Pompeo is not meeting with the Palestinians, he said, “The threats to US interests come from the Iranians and not from the Palestinians. He is well aware of their incursions and mischief around the globe. Add to this that the Palestinian Authority is rejecting contact with the Trump Administration. In Saudi Arabia he heard Prince Mohammed bin Salman say the Palestinians need to either “put up or shut up.” According to Ben David, Pompeo is apparently now giving that same message to the Palestinians.
Trump’s 3 issues: Iran, Iran and Iran
Mark Zell, who heads Republicans in Israel, told WIN that Pompeo does not represent a new US policy direction.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the top three issues for the US in the Middle East are Iran, Iran and Iran. This has been the case since day one. Having said that, we can see that Pompeo is quite proactive and uses a different tone than former Secretary of State Tillerson. Before even setting foot in his new office in Washington, Pompeo came to the Middle East on his first trip overseas. He visited Saudi Arabia and now Israel. His message is quite clear. He is pushing back against the Iranian nuclear program and against Iranian expansionism and support for terrorism throughout the region.
Middle East Analyst Amotz Asa-el told WIN, “On an emotional level, Pompeo is as pro-Israel as they get. He is a longtime, staunch supporter of Israel. The way he sees it, the Palestinians are a non-factor. He wants to focus on Iran because they are the de-stabilizing force in the Middle East.”
According to Asa-el, “The grand peace plan of Trump was rejected by the Palestinians, so they are irrelevant. He plans to move more forcefully against Iran because they destabilize the entire Middle East. Of course he wants to undo Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But even more than that, he believes that the Islamic regime in Iran can ultimately be toppled. He plans to speak directly to the Iranian people and its silent majority that seeks to depose the radical Islamic regime.”