Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again expressed support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank during a trip to the area over the weekend.
“This is the rightful homeland for the people of Israel here in Judea and Samaria,” Pompeo said Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“We recognized that this is not an occupied nation, this is not an apartheid country. It is a democracy where faiths can be practiced from all of the Abrahamic traditions.”
Pompeo spoke during a visit to the Psagot Winery, located on a hilltop outside of Jerusalem.
Less than a year earlier, Pompeo visited the West Bank and announced a historic change in U.S. policy that allowed for settler products produced there to be labeled “Made in Israel.”
Under then-President Donald Trump, Pompeo announced the U.S. recognized Israel’s historic, religious, and legal rights to the West Bank, and that Israeli settlements were not inconsistent with international law.
The Trump administration’s policy changes in regard to Israel have been referred to as the “Pompeo Doctrine.”
Pompeo told a crowd that it was obvious early that the Trump administration “was going to break some glass” when it came to issues such as recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the relocation of the embassy there, and recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.
He said that his statement that “Israel was not an occupier in Judea and Samaria” might have been his most important declaration as secretary of state.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time said Israel’s deep biblical connection to its land had been obscured with lies that characterize the Jewish people as colonialists and conquerors, the Post reported.
“This is our land,” Netanyahu said. “We have regained the high ground and we shall keep it.”
Netanyahu added that he meant both the “physical and the moral high ground.”
Israel has “no better ally than the United States,” said Netanyahu, who currently is head of the Likud Party and the opposition in the Knesset.
“In the United States we have no better ally than Mike Pompeo and some of his friends and we remember our friends,” Netanyahu said before turning to face Pompeo.
“You are part of our mishpacha (family).”
Pompeo’s latest visit coincided with that of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett about her opposition to West Bank settlements, the Post said.