JERUSALEM – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would visit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Thursday, marking the Trump administration’s break with previous U.S. policy on the strategic plateau.
Washington in 2019 recognised Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the parts of the Golan that Israel captured from Syria in a 1967 war and later annexed in a move not recognised by the United Nations and most of the international community.
“Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights. The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality,” Pompeo said in Jerusalem.
Israel says the Golan – which overlooks northern Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – is a bulwark against Syria and Iranian forces based there. On Wednesday, Israel launched air raids against what it called a wide range of Syrian and Iraniantargets in Syria in retaliation for what it said was an attempted bomb attack.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said of the proposed Golan visit: “Pompeo’s visit to occupied land is an active partnership in this occupation.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Pompeo and Trump for their Middle East policy.
Pompeo, who announced new U.S. sanctions on Iran while in Israel, said Washington would also step up action against pro-Palestinian efforts to isolate Israel economically and diplomatically.
“I want you to know that we will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in hateful BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) conduct and withdraw U.S. government support,” he said during their meeting in Jerusalem.
“We will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Pompeo said. Supporters of BDS dispute that designation, saying they are against all forms of racism.