Mike Pompeo is expected to tour an Israeli winery this week built on land Palestinian families say was stolen from them, a deeply provocative act that would make him the first US secretary of state to officially visit a settlement in the occupied territories.
The top diplomat’s visit has been widely reported by Israeli media but not confirmed by Washington. If it went ahead, it would be a parting gift to Israel’s nationalist government and the settler movement, as the Trump administration scrambles in its final weeks to impose a vision for the Middle East that has deeply favoured Israel’s far-right.
Psagot, a settlement built on a hilltop next to the Palestinian city of al-Bireh, runs a winery that produces 600,000 bottles a year and offers VIP tours with cheese tasting.
Last year, it released a red wine named after the secretary of state as “a show of gratitude and appreciation” for Pompeo’s declaration that the US would break away from international consensus and no longer argue that settlements are illegal.
Settlers and the Israeli government have attempted to push tourism in the occupied territories to bolster their claim to the land, not only with wine tours but also by establishing “national parks” where people can go on settler-run hiking holidays.
The winery’s website says it overlooks the “primordial landscape of Israel” despite being located deep inside the Palestinian territories and just metres from Palestinian families who say they were dispossessed.