As Pompeo arrives in Israel, Netanyahu says new gov’t can make peace; US concerned about China

Pompeo and Netanyahu will discuss a number of issues, including the pandemic, the Trump peace plan, Iran and Israel-China ties.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel for a lightning visit of a few hours, wearing a Stars & Stripes mask against the coronavirus.

Greeting him in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the unity government will present an opportunity to advance Trump’s Mideast peace plan.

In response, Pompeo said that Israel has a right to defend itself and the U.S. supports that right.

Pompeo and Netanyahu will discuss a number of issues, including the global pandemic, China, the Trump administration’s peace plan and Iran. It’s the last item that is at the top of the agenda.

The U.S. has taken a tough stance against Iran, tightening the screws on the Islamic Republic since President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration.

Currently, the U.S. is determined to prevent the UN arms embargo that prevents Iran from obtaining conventional weapons from expiring in October .

Iran has been weakened by U.S. sanctions, and the coronavirus has also taken a toll on the country. The U.S. and Israel want to take advantage of the situation to fight Iran the best way possible, a senior U.S. official told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster.

Regarding the Trump peace plan, Pompeo, on the eve of his trip, reiterated his comments that applying sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is Israel’s decision, sending a clear message that the U.S. would support such a move.

At the short press conference before their meeting, Pompeo only said, “There remains work yet to do, and we need to make progress on that. I am looking forward to it.”

With tensions rising between the U.S. and China, Pompeo commented on America’s concern about Chinese projects in Israel.

“You’re a great partner, you share information, unlike some other countries that try to obfuscate and hide that information,” Pompeo said. “We’ll talk about that country too.”

Pompeo will not be meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was complaining of respiratory problems. He has tested negative for coronavirus.