US Pompeo Visits West Bank Settlement, Golan Heights, in First

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. (Photo: File)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top American diplomat to visit a West Bank Jewish settlement and the disputed Golan Heights, cementing Donald Trump’s strongly pro-Israel legacy.

On a farewell tour of the Middle East, Pompeo also said exports from the settlements could now be labeled as “Made in Israel” and called a boycott movement against the Jewish state a “cancer”.

Pompeo held no meetings with Palestinians, who protested his actions and dismissed them as the latest sign of the outgoing Trump administration’s strong bias against them.

Accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Pompeo traveled aboard a Blackhawk helicopter to the Golan Heights, a strategic territory the Jewish state seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“You can’t stand here and stare out at what’s across the border and deny the central thing that President Donald Trump recognized… This is a part of Israel,” Pompeo said.

Last year, Trump’s administration controversially recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, and Pompeo on Thursday condemned what he described as calls from “the salons in Europe and in the elite institutions in America” for Israel to return the Golan to Syria.

Pompeo took a further step, announcing that the US would now consider exports from much of the West Bank as “Made in Israel”.

The new guidelines, he said, apply especially to Area C, the large part of the West Bank where Israel retains full civil and military control and where much of the settler population lives.

Area C also includes the strategic Jordan Valley and many Palestinian communities, areas that Israel considers to be disputed.

Pompeo’s announcement seemed to imply that even Palestinian exports from Area C should be tagged as Israeli products – as should the wine he sampled at Psagot.

Regarding products from areas under Palestinian control, they must now be marked as coming from the West Bank or Gaza, the coastal enclave controlled by the Hamas Islamist group.

That decision effectively means that, at least through Trump’s remaining days in office, the US will not recognize exports as coming from the Palestinian Territories.

The decision on labeling “blatantly violates international law,” said Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, dismissing it as yet another biased move by Trump’s administration.

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

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