Secretary of State Mike Pompeo completes visit to Israel before heading to UAE

Nov. 20 (UPI) — Mike Pompeo on Friday completed what’s expected to be his final trip to Israel as U.S. secretary of state by visiting a museum in Jerusalem founded by an evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump.

Mike Evans, creator of the Friends of Zion Museum, has been one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in the faith community with strong ties to Israel. The museum recognizes Christian supporters of the Jewish state.

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Pompeo said in a tweet that touring the museum was “enriching” and took the opportunity to again criticize the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to pressure Israel economically to end occupation in the West Bank.

Pompeo said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday the BDS movement is a “cancer” that the United States and Israel are committed to defeating. Also Thursday, Pompeo visited Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the first U.S. secretary of state to do so.

“Thanks to the Friends of Zion Museum for an enriching tour and continued support for U.S.-Israel relations, particularly efforts to combat BDS and anti-Semitism internationally,” Pompeo wrote in his tweet. “We share common causes of a safe, secure and prosperous Israel and a world free of anti-Semitism.”

Pompeo said in his remarks Thursday that the United States will cut funding for any group that supports the BDS movement. Some U.S. supporters of the movement say the threat would violate their freedom of speech.

Pompeo told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the Trump administration has made the Middle East a safer place over the last four years, a reference to recent normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

After departing Israel, Pompeo is scheduled to visit the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before returning to Washington, D.C.

Pompeo, who has previously implied that Trump won the 2020 election, again declined Friday to acknowledge Joe Biden as the president-elect, saying they’re “still counting votes.”

Georgia, a key battleground state Biden won, completed a hand recount Thursday that affirmed the former vice president’s victory by about 14,000 votes. Georgia is expected to certify the votes Friday.

Biden has yet to announce his nominee to head the State Department, but Pompeo has given no indication that he will visit Israel again before the Biden administration begins on Jan. 20.

Pompeo also told the Post that the Trump administration will continue to take action to counter Iran.

“It cannot be the case that rewarding Iranian intransigence, rewarding terror, rewarding Iranians for building their enrichment programs is the right course of action to make Israel safer,” he said.

“It makes absolutely no sense and so it’s our firm belief that the continuation of the things we’ve been doing leads to a very increased likelihood of a safer, more prosperous Middle East.”

The New York Times reported last week that Pompeo was one of the administration officials who talked Trump out of an idea last week to bomb a nuclear development facility in Iran.

Source Link: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/11/20/Pompeo-completes-visit-to-Israel-before-heading-to-UAE/1571605879577/

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