Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expected in Israel to celebrate the retirement of outgoing Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to arrive in Israel this week, possibly overlapping the current trip of his successor Antony Blinken, the news website Politico reported Monday.
Pompeo’s arrival isn’t finalized due to the timing of the required coronavirus testing, but Pompeo, who himself is a former director of the CIA, will be making a private visit to Israel to attend the retirement celebration of Yossi Cohen, the outgoing head of the Mossad spy agency, Israel’s equivalent of the CIA.
When in Israel, Pompeo is also expected to meet privately with non-governmental officials and he had notified Secretary of State Blinken of his plans, a source familiar with the trip told Politico.
Pompeo is well-liked in Israel, having been a key member of the Trump administration that oversaw the long-sought-after move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the historic Abraham Accords.
Viewed as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, Pompeo is a strong backer of Israel. The first U.S. secretary of State to make an official visit to a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, he changed State Department policy to say that “some settlements are not inconsistent with international law” and supported former President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that were captured from Syria in the 1967 war.
In an interview with the Hudson Institute last week, Pompeo stressed the importance of U.S.-Israel relations, especially with respect to the threat posed by Iran to both the Middle East and the United States.
“We have great friends and partners in the region, foremost amongst them is the State of Israel – a great security partner for the United States in lots of places around the world.” Pompeo said. “We have deep diplomatic and economic ties with the State of Israel. It is the lone democracy in the Middle East – we want to preserve and protect that for faithful believers in the United States.”
“Jerusalem is an important place in its own right as well, so there are lots of American interests that are connected to this conflict,” Pompeo said, adding that any time there is terror in the Middle East, there is a risk it will extend to America.
“So taking down this terror effort, this campaign against the State of Israel, [what Iran refers to as] the little Satan, could ultimately grow into an Iranian campaign against the great Satan – the United States. The United States has a deep and consistent interest in doing our best to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”
Pompeo pointed to the prediction of danger made by Democrats if the U.S. refused to accept the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, as well as the claim made during the Trump administration that violence would explode if the U.S. moved the embassy to Jerusalem or recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We’ve now defeated the hypothesis. We need a new hypothesis,” Pompeo said. “We withdrew from the JCPOA and we didn’t have … conflict like you’re seeing today.”