A Big US First in Israel, and a 'Major Policy Shift'

Mike Pompeo is first US diplomat to visit Israeli settlement in occupied West Bank
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 19, 2020 9:10 AM CST
A Big US First in Israel, and a 'Major Policy Shift'
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint statement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, Pool)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top US diplomat to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank as the State Department announced that products from the settlements can be labeled "Made in Israel" in a major policy shift. The two moves reflected the Trump administration's acceptance of Israeli settlements, which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace, per the AP. A State Department official confirmed Pompeo's visit to the Psagot winery, in a settlement near Jerusalem, to reporters traveling with him but who weren't allowed to accompany him on that leg of the visit. Pompeo also announced the US would bar groups that participate in an international Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel from receiving government funding.

"We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic," Pompeo said, referring to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, adding that all nations should "recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is." BDS organizers cast their movement as a nonviolent way of protesting Israel's policies toward the Palestinians modeled on the campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa. Israel views BDS as an assault on its very existence. Pompeo spoke at a Thursday press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said the Israel-US alliance had reached "unprecedented heights" under the Trump administration. "For a long time, the State Department took the wrong view of settlements," Pompeo said, but it now recognizes "settlements can be done in a way that [is] lawful, appropriate, and proper."

(More Mike Pompeo stories.)

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