“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The US is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo said.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Mike Pompeo voiced a strongly worded message of support for Israel as he came to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday on first trip to the Middle East as secretary of state.
The discussions, unsurprisingly, focused on Iran, its actions in the region, as well as the nuclear accord that President Donald Trump has threatened to walk away from by May 12th if serious changes are not made. Pompeo and Netanyahu apparently see eye to eye on these issues.
In a joint news conference, Pompeo called Israel “an incredibly important partner.” He also stated, “We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains.”
“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” he declared.
His support was warmly reciprocated by Netanyahu, who called Pompeo a “true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people,” adding, “I can say that today America and Israel are closer than ever before.”
Pompeo stayed away from the Palestinian Authority (PA) on this visit. According to Ha’aretz, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ aide, Nabil Shaath, said that no one in Pompeo’s office requested a meeting. “Even if there was such a petition, the official Palestinian stance remains unchanged, and it is not to meet with the American administration representatives,” Shaath said.
The PA is furious with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the upcoming transfer of the US Embassy to that city.
‘Incredibly proud to be opening the new embassy’
“We are incredibly proud to be opening the new embassy on May 14th, well ahead of the original timetable. This step comes as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independence, and 70 years of recognition and steadfast support for Israel from the American people as well. By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality,” Pompeo stated in Tel Aviv.
“I also stress that President Trump has said in December the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians,” he added.
Pompeo, a former three-term congressman from Kansas, has been known for his vehement opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, voting against it when it was brought to Congress by former President Barack Obama. His hostility to Iran was already obvious in 2014, when he voiced opposition to negotiations with the Islamic Republic, saying, “In an unclassified setting, it is under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”
His uncompromising view of Islamist extremism was also evidenced by his co-sponsoring of legislation to add the Muslim Brotherhood to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Pompeo served as President Trump’s first CIA director for just over a year before being confirmed in his new position this past Thursday.