US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday morning landed in Israel and traveled immediately to Jerusalem for separate meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz.
Pompeo was also expected to hold talks with incoming Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and have a tete-a-tete with Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad spy agency.
One of the key items on the agenda was Israel’s prospective annexation of some 30% of the West Bank in accordance with the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan. Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to press forward with applying Israeli sovereignty to areas in the Palestinian-claimed territory that are currently being mapped out by a joint US-Israeli committee.
In this respect, Pompeo stated that “there remains work yet to do and we need to make progress on that [front]. I am looking forward to it.”
Other important issues discussed during the top US diplomat’s lightning trip included combating Iran’s ongoing interventionism throughout the Middle East. Also of concern to the US is Israel’s growing economic ties to China, given longstanding accusations that Beijing has used foreign investments as a means of gaining influence over, and allegedly spying on, countries.