Pompeo told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the Trump administration is not weighing in on Israel’s internal politics. He was responding to a question about the far-right Otzma Yehudit party.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed a question by news anchor Jake Tapper on CNN on Sunday about whether the Trump administration is concerned about Otzma Yehudit (or, “The Jewish Strength”) party, a far-right wing party running in Israel’s April elections.
In a long-worded question, Tapper asked: “Several major Jewish American groups, ones very supportive of Israel, this week condemned Netanyahu for outreach he’s conducted to an extreme right-wing, an extremist group really, a Jewish group as he’s seeking his fifth term in office. The group is called Otzma Yehudit. It has its roots in the racist, radical Kach party that was banned in Israel. It was just called racist and despicable by AIPAC. Does the Trump administration have any concerns about extending outreach to this racist political party?”
Pompeo, who appeared to shake his head slightly and smiled, said, “Jake, we’re not about to get involved in the election – to interfere in the election of a democracy. Election campaigns are tough. We’ll allow the Israeli people to sort this out. And I’m confident when the election’s over, the United States will continue to have a strong, important and very, very deep relationship with Israel that protects the American people and benefits Israel as well.”
Tapper continued to push, asking the follow-up question: “Is it not the responsibility of an ally to reach out and say when you think the prime minister is doing something wrong, is doing something that violates the values of that relationship and the values of the Jewish State?”
Pompeo responded: “This administration has been very vocal when we see human rights violations wherever we find them – friends, foes, adversaries, allies. We’ve been very consistent. We do it in different ways. We do it at different times. We will continue to do that. It’s a deep, important tradition of the United States of America and the Trump administration will continue to do that as well, Jake.”
On Thursday, the American Jewish Committee issued a statement condemning the entry of Otzma Yehudit into the election campaign through a merger it made with the Jewish Home and National Union parties. The merger was pushed by Prime Minister Netanyahu who feared the loss of right-wing votes.
The AJC said in its statement that “The views of Otzma Yehudit are reprehensible. They do not reflect the core values that are the very foundation of the State of Israel.”
On Friday, the larger and more powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) endorsed the AJC’s statement, retweeting it with the following comment “We agree with AJC. AIPAC has a longstanding policy not to meet with members of this racist and reprehensible party.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League’s Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “There should be no room for racism & no accommodation for intolerance in Israel or any democracy.”
The former national director of ADL, Abraham Foxman, also tweeted “Legitimizing racist candidates in the forthcoming Israeli election undermines Israeli democracy and its values. There is still time to reconsider this cynical political step.”
Israeli opposition parties used the condemnations by American Jewish groups to attack Netanyahu.
The exchange regarding Israel between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CNN’s Jake Tapper can be seen below.