Newly-appointed United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel as part of his first international trip in that role, and Iran was top of mind. The US remains “deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains,” Pompeo told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday. The comments, released by his office, made it clear whose side America is on.
“Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world,” said the top US diplomat. “…The United States is with Israel in this fight and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
Pompeo—discussing the Iranian threats as an American deadline for fixing or nixing the Iran nuclear deal is next month—called the nuclear accord “very flawed. “ He said that US President Donald has “directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can’t fix it, he’s going to withdraw from the deal. It’s pretty straightforward.”
Netanyahu, in comments with Pompeo released by his office, expressed his appreciation for the position of both Pompeo and President Trump on stopping Iranian aggression—and the nuclear deal signed with Iran is a key part of that.
“That aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened, and Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other,” said Netanyahu.
“Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped, and we’re committed to stopping it together.”
Pompeo said that part of Trump’s approach is to take into account “the broad set of non-nuclear threats” posed by Iran: their missile program, support for the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon, sending “thousands of proxy fighters into Syria” and more.
“We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence,” said Pompeo.
The Secretary of State and Netanyahu both highlighted the upcoming opening of the US embassy in the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, set to occur in the next couple weeks. Pompeo said they are “incredibly proud” of the embassy move and said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “recognizing reality.” He separately noted that the US still believes the boundaries of Jerusalem should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
In Netanyahu’s comments, he highlighted that the US embassy move is not an isolated incident. “I must tell you that the bold decision by President Trump has prompted other countries, quite a few now, who are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well,” said the Israeli leader. “It says something about American leadership and about the forthright way in which simple truths are being put forward, and the effect this has on the international scene.”
The relationship between the US and Israel is strong, and Pompeo’s visit is a symbol of the importance of the Jewish State to the Americans. Netanyahu, per a separate press release published by his office, told Pompeo they “are very proud of the fact that this is your first visit as Secretary of State,” to which Pompeo replied, “You’re an incredibly important partner, [and] occupy a special place in my heart too.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 29, 2018)