By Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom—
It’s been months since Israel had its a high-profile visit. This is not just because of the coronavirus crisis but also because of the year-long political limbo and the three elections we have had.
But all this will end on Wednesday when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Israel. For Pompeo, it is one of his rare trips in recent months. Speaking with Israel Hayom, Pompeo said “it’s important for a number of reasons that we do this face to face,” referring to his talks with senior Israeli officials on his visit.
Upon his appointment two years ago, he flew to Israel on the very same day. Now that Israel is finally about to swear in a government, the pro-Israeli secretary is back. He will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and General Gantz, as Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is often referred to by US officials.
Pompeo’s visit is short because of the coronavirus crisis. He plans to discuss the implementation of the administration’s newly unveiled peace plan. In his interview, Pompeo implies that there is a green light for extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Q: Is there a specific reason for your visit?
“There are a whole range of issues that I want to discuss. The continued threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and how we will work together to deter them and to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. I want to bring them up to speed on the progress we think we are making on President Trump’s Vision for Peace. It is a pretty detailed and realistic and implementable concept and I wanted to share with them some of the work that we are continuing to do on that. Then there is a whole range of issues, certainly COVID-19, the work that we will do with our health experts working together to try to find therapeutic drugs and vaccines to the world. The list is long. We recognize the deepening economic relationship with China and that presents opportunities. We want to share with them our views on the risks that come alongside that as well.”
Q: You mentioned the Vision for Peace, the main issue of the new government is the extension of sovereignty over areas of Judea and Samaria. How do you see this historic step?
“We will certainly have conversations with them on their plans, how they are thinking about that … This is one of the topics we will certainly discuss.”
Q: There was a report here in Israel that you are going to ask the prime minister and Gantz to delay this move.
“I have said previously that this is a decision that the Israelis will make. I want to understand how the new leadership, the soon-to-be new government, is thinking about that.”