As the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel on a one-day visit, he praised the Israeli authorities for sharing information during the global efforts to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic. While taking a swipe at China’s lack of transparency, Pompeo told the Israeli Prime Minister that he is a ‘great partner’ as he shared information - ‘unlike some other countries that try to obfuscate and hide the information’.
US President Donald Trump and Pompeo have been engaged in a war of words with China, where the deadly virus first emerged. The US leaders have been saying that Beijing failed to inform the world fast enough about the dangers it imposed and muzzled those who raised the alarm. While Pompeo did not name China or give any specific examples of Israeli cooperation, he did say that he had a ‘fruitful discussion’ on ways Israel and US can work together to address the shared challenges.
Glad to be in Israel to coordinate with @IsraeliPM @Netanyahu and @Gantzbe on countering two critical threats: COVID-19 and Iran. Israel and the United States will take on these challenges side-by-side. pic.twitter.com/aSrzD8MhkS— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 13, 2020
According to an international media report, one of the key items on the agenda for Pompeo’s visit was also to discuss Israel’s states' intention to annex parts of the West Bank. The two leaders also reportedly discussed the efforts to keep Iran from obtains nuclear weapons, the Trump administration’s Mideast plan and efforts to combat the coronavirus.
While the main agenda was the proposed declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, Pompeo reportedly said that there is still work to do and the authorities till need to make progress. However, Pompeo even added that he is still ‘looking forward’ to future talks.
The Middle East plan would let Israel annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank and exert sovereignty all the way to Jordan. However, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have rejected Trump's plan. The Palestinians were offered limited self-rule in Gaza, parts of the West Bank, and some sparsely populated areas of Israel in return for meeting a long list of conditions.
Hamas has vowed that ‘all options are open’ in its response to the proposal, but is not believed to be seeking war with Israel. Meanwhile, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the Israeli-Palestinian peace truce in January and called it 'completely unacceptable'.