Middle East Eye / February 16, 2023
Former secretary of state rejects that Israel is an occupying nation and calls Palestinian president ‘known terrorist’.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that Israel has a biblical right to Palestinian land and that President Mahmoud Abbas is a “known terrorist”.
The comments were made during an episode of the One Decision podcast released early on Thursday.
“[Israel] is not an occupying nation. This land, as an evangelical Christian, I am convinced from my reading of the Bible that 3,000 years onto now, in spite of the denial of so many, is the rightful homeland of the Jewish people,” Pompeo said.
He referred to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria” during the episode, using the biblical names of the region often used by Israelis to refer to the illegally occupied territory.
Many have speculated whether the former secretary of state, who served during Donald Trump’s administration, will enter the 2024 presidential race.
Pompeo criticized the administration of former president Barack Obama for negotiating with Abbas, who he referred to by his nickname Abu Mazen.
“Our theory of the case was this – what is in America’s best interest? Is it to sit and wait for Abu Mazen, a known terrorist who’s killed lots and lots of people, including Americans, and given those martyrs money, for having done so?” he said, without further elaborations.
“We said that’s just not in America’s best interest.”
Pompeo dismisses Israel judicial concerns
Pompeo declined to support a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating instead: “I’m for an outcome that guarantees Israeli security and makes life better for everyone in the region.”
He also dismissed concerns about controversial judicial reforms pushed forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition.
“The Israelis are one of the most democratic nations in the world and they’ll continue at it, and this to and fro, these protests you’re seeing, we’ve had protests at our Supreme Court too. People are entitled to their own views,” he said.
In 2019, Pompeo threw out a 1978 State Department legal opinion by declaring that the US did not deem Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank as “inconsistent with international law”.
The following year, Trump announced his Middle East peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians, dubbed the “Deal of the Century”.
The plan – which was condemned across the board by Palestinians – recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, declared the annexation of illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, and barred Palestinians from the right to resettle in their ancestral homes in Israel.
Last month, Pompeo released a memoir in which he discussed the 2020 US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who he compared to a Rembrandt painting, and the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which he claimed was an overblown crisis.
He also spoke of how he tried to “break through” a locked door in Ankara’s presidential complex to reach then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was having a longer than expected tête-à-tête with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.