Newly-confirmed U.S. Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo On Mideast Tour
Fresh off his Congressional confirmation, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will arrive in Israel on Sunday, a day after traveling to Saudi Arabia and ahead of a stop in Jordan. The U.S.’ top diplomat is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with talks to focus primarily on Iran. The former CIA director replaced Rex Tillerson, who was fired earlier this year over differences with President Donald Trump, in particular their divergent views on the 2015 nuclear accord and how to rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program and regional expansionism. In this respect, Pompeo—who is being accompanied by his senior policy adviser Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s point-man for negotiations with European powers to devise a follow-on pact to the atomic agreement—is considered an Iran ‘hawk’ who in his previous role expressed a desire to “roll back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” President Trump has until May 12 to decide whether or not to re-impose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, a move that would most likely kill the original deal. Also on Pompeo’s agenda in Israel is the White House’s desire to jump-start the peace process; this, despite a boycott imposed on American officials by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the wake of the U.S.’ recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. To this end, Pompeo is considered a close friend of Majid Faraj, head of the powerful West Bank General Intelligence Service, and the two are believed to have recently met in secret in Washington. While Pompeo is not slated to visit Ramallah, he reportedly maintains an open line of communication Faraj, through which details of the Trump administration’s year-in-the-making peace proposal might be conveyed to Abbas.