Nov. 19 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top American official to visit settlements in the Israeli-controlled West Bank — and vowed that the United States will cut funding over a boycott linked to what he said is an anti-Semitic movement.
The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement was started in 2005 and aims to use economic pressure to compel Israel to end its control in the West Bank and other disputed territories.
In his remarks Thursday, Pompeo labeled the BDS movement “hateful” and said groups or businesses associated with it will see an economic backlash.
“We want to stand with all other nations that recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is, and we’re committed to combating it,” Pompeo said. “Our record speaks for itself.
“During the Trump administration, America stands with Israel like never before. Indeed, the commitment we’ve made, the ironclad commitment we’ve made to the Jewish state, will continue.”
Also Thursday, Pompeo also became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. He traveled to to Judea and Samaria and made a stop at the Psagot Winery and Shaar Binyamin Industrial Park.
“Today the United States Department of State stands strongly to the recognition that settlements can be done in a way that are lawful and appropriate and proper,” he said.
Israel’s building settlements in Palestinian areas of the West Bank has been condemned by most of the international community. A year ago, Pompeo said the settlements don’t violate international laws — a reversal of a long-held U.S. position.
Thursday, Netanyahu thanked Pompeo and the Trump administration for various decisions over the last four years that benefited Israel — including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, helping to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates and supporting Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights.
“Thanks to President Trump, the United States proposed the first truly realistic plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Netanyahu said. “And thanks to President Trump, Israel was able to forge peace with three Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.”
Pompeo’s visit in Israel is part of a 10-day, seven-nation tour in Europe and the Middle East. He will next visit the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States.