Pompeo Starts Unprecedented Tour of WB Settlement, ‘Israeli’ Occupied Golan
Story Code : 898894
The envoy of US President Donald Trump, who has made a staunchly pro-“Israel” stance a hallmark of his turbulent term in power, also called the pro-Palestinian BDS movement a "cancer" that Washington would designate as “anti-Semitic”.
After meeting close ally “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo announced that "today I will get a chance to visit the Golan Heights”.
Last year, Trump's administration made the controversial decision to recognize “‘Israeli’ sovereignty” in the occupied Golan – a move Pompeo on Thursday called "historically important and simply a recognition of the reality".
Pompeo also announced a new pro-“Israel” policy, stating that Washington would designate as "anti-Semitic" the BDS or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign which calls for a wide-ranging embargo against the “Israeli” entity over its treatment of the Palestinians.
"We will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups," Pompeo said in a joint appearance with Netanyahu.
"We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is."
The “Israeli” entity sees BDS as a strategic threat and has long accused it of “anti-Semitism”, and a law passed in 2017 allows it to ban foreigners with links to the movement.
Activists strongly deny the charge, comparing the embargo to the economic isolation that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa.
Condemning Pompeo's announcement, Human Rights Watch said "the Trump administration has no business trying to tar groups because they back boycotts," which it said had been used to advance social justice throughout American history.
Pompeo – who has so far backed Trump in refusing to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden – is on what could be his final Europe and Middle East tour in the post.
Netanyahu, who has congratulated Biden, thanked Pompeo for his "unwavering support" of the “Israeli” entity, first as CIA director and then secretary of state, while claiming that under Trump the US-“Israeli: relationship "reached unprecedented heights".
Pompeo had no scheduled meetings with Palestinian leaders, who have strongly rejected Trump's stance on the decades-old conflict, including Washington's recognition of al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the so-called “Israeli” capital.
The secretary of state later Thursday also became the first US top diplomat to visit an “Israeli” settlement in the occupied West Bank, where a vineyard has named one of its wines after him.
Pompeo arrived at the Psagot winery, near the “Israeli” settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, according to a State Department official.
Dozens of Palestinians have demonstrated near the winery, and some threw stones at soldiers guarding the entrance to the settlers' industrial zone on Wednesday.
“Israeli” planning and building of settlements in the Palestinian territories has boomed under successive Netanyahu governments and especially since Trump took office in 2017.
Pompeo said a year ago that the US no longer considers “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank to be contrary to international law.
Pompeo and Netanyahu stood by the previous day when Bahrain's foreign minister called for fresh “Israeli”-Palestinian talks.
Bahrain's Abdellatif al-Zayani said the historic US-brokered deals the Gulf kingdom and the United Arab Emirates had struck to normalize ties with the entity would help foster a dawn of "peace for the entire Middle East".
"To achieve and consolidate such a peace, the Palestinian and 'Israeli' conflict needs to be resolved," the minister said. "I therefore call for both parties to get around the negotiating table to achieve a viable 'two-state' solution."
The US and the “Israeli” entity – along with Gulf states the UAE, Bahrain and notably Saudi Arabia – share a strong animosity toward regional power Iran.
Pompeo warned the Islamic republic in comments Wednesday that the deals the UAE and Bahrain have reached with the entity showed "its influence in the region is waning".