Pompeo to visit Golan Heights, Israeli settlement in West Bank

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to visit the Golan Heights and an Israeli settlement in the West Bank during a visit to the Jewish state next week – both firsts by a top US diplomat, according to a report.

The international community considers both territories to be “illegally occupied” by Israel, though President Trump has recognized Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

In its report about Pompeo’s planned visit to the two sites, Axios noted that his trip appears to be intended to highlight Trump’s policy shifts on Israel, as well as illustrate the secretary of state’s close ties to the nation.

Late last year, Pompeo annulled a 1978 State Department legal opinion that deemed Israeli settlements in the West Bank “inconsistent with international law.”

During his visit to the settlement of Psagot, Pompeo plans to stop by a winery whose owner had named a new wine after the top US diplomat, according to Axios, which said it was unclear whether it will be designated as an official or private visit.

The West Bank was earlier targeted among European Union efforts to label Israeli products from contested areas as coming from occupied territory, according to The Hill.

Pompeo’s weeklong tour abroad, which begins Friday, also will take him to France, Turkey, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The leaders of each of those countries have offered public congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden.

Pompeo raised eyebrows this week by dismissing a reporter’s question about the presidential transition, saying “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

He appeared to be speaking in jest and went on to say that the world should be assured that the State Department will be functional with the president who takes office Jan. 20.

With Post wires

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