Mike Pompeo became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit both an Israeli settlement in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, a disputed area on Israel’s border with Syria that the Trump administration has recognized as part of Israel.
At a news conference Thursday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo also said that the Trump administration will cut ties with any groups that support the boycott Israel movement, which the U.S. will officially consider anti-Semitic.
Later in the day, he visited the Psagot winery in a settlement near Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s capital, and his office announced that the State Department will enforce that goods produced in places in the West Bank “where Israel exercises full control” will be labeled “Made in Israel” when sold in the U.S. The international requirement since 1995 has been to label such goods as made in the West Bank.
On the Golan, which most of the international community sees as occupied territory, Pompeo spoke from a hilltop. The State Department recognized the territory as part of Israel last year.
“I very much wanted to come here on this trip to tell the world that we have it right. That we, the United States has it right. That Israel has it right,” he said Thursday.
Netanyahu applauded the series of historic moves as “wonderful,” while the Palestinians condemned them.
“[T]he State Department took the wrong view of settlements. It took a view that didn’t recognize the history of this special place,” Pompeo said. “And instead, now, today the United States Department of State stands strongly to the recognition that settlements can be done in a way that are lawful and appropriate and proper.”
Prior U.S. administrations have seen settlement expansion as an impediment to peace and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On BDS, or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Pompeo added that “we will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct, and withdraw US government support for such groups.”
The movement “urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law” in regards to its occupation of land in the West Bank, but many critics say it is built on anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic concepts.
While at the winery, which has named a vintage after him, Pompeo wrote in the visitor’s book that he hopes he will not be “the last secretary of state to visit this beautiful land.”
Pompeo visits West Bank settlement, Golan Heights