Pompeo will be the first US Secretary of State to visit the occupied Golan Heights

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Jerusalem | Mike Pompeo is due to make Thursday the first visit of a US foreign minister to the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by Israel, after the United States was the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the plateau.

Under Donald Trump’s administration, the United States has shown unparalleled support for the Hebrew state with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the approval of Israeli sovereignty over the part of the Golan Heights taken from Israel. Syria in 1967, then annexed in 1981.

“Today I will have the chance to visit the Golan Heights. The mere recognition of (this territory) as part of Israel was a decision of historic significance by President Trump along with a simple recognition of reality, ”Pompeo said at a press briefing. in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In March 2019, the United States became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over this strategic territory at the crossroads of Lebanon and Syria, a measure denounced by many states.

According to the Israeli press, the Secretary of State, on a farewell tour after Donald Trump’s presidential defeat, could also on Thursday become the first American foreign minister to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, in this case. the Psagot vineyard.

Israeli settlement in the Palestinian Territories has experienced a boom in recent years under the leadership of Mr. Netanyahu and during the Trump presidency.

More than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements, deemed illegal by international law, in the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967 and also home to some 2.8 million Palestinians.

But in November 2019, almost to the day, Mr. Pompeo had planted another nail in claiming that these settlements were no longer, according to Washington, contrary to international law.

“For a long time the State Department took the wrong approach on the settlements, failing to recognize the history of this special (territory). Today the US State Department vigorously defends the recognition that the colonies can be legal (…) ”, he reiterated Thursday.

In Pompeo veritas?

At the Israeli vineyard of Psagot, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, bottles in honor of Mike Pompeo were opened in 2019, said the owner, Yaakov Berg at the time.

This winegrower sells most of his production abroad, in the United States and in Europe in particular, but is at the heart of a politico-legal battle over the status of the colonies.

In 2016, a French decision required it to have differentiated labeling of products from the Territories occupied by Israel. These products could not be qualified as originating from Israel but from Israeli settlements.

Furious, Yaakov Berg had fought this decision. And the dispute had reached the European Court which had validated the French decision by maintaining that the products of the colonies had to be labeled as such.

Washington’s decision on the status of the settlements had therefore been welcomed by the winegrower and most of the Israeli political class.

“Go home!”

Palestinians, who have cut ties with the Trump administration, are already having trouble digesting Mike Pompeo’s possible visit to an Israeli settlement.

On Wednesday, dozens of Palestinians demonstrated in Al-Bireh, opposite Psagot, waving Palestinian flags. “Pompeo is going home,” read a sign.

“Pompeo’s planned visit is a crime because it violates all international resolutions,” said Mounif Treish, member of the municipality of Al-Bireh. “The (Psagot) vineyard was established on private Palestinian land. We have the documents to prove it. ”

“If international relations are based on bottles of wine, then diplomacy is dead,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said earlier this week.

Perhaps also to support the sale abroad of wines from the colonies, Mike Pompeo announced that Washington was going to take “immediate” measures against organizations linked to the BDS campaign to boycott Israel, which he said. qualified as “anti-Semites”.

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