US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that his country decided to classify settlement products as “Made in Israel” without referring to their settlement origin, during his visit on Thursday to a settlement on the lands of the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh, which was followed by a trip to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
Thus, Pompeo will be the first US Secretary of State to visit the Golan Heights and an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, dedicating during his farewell visit to the Middle East the legacy of US President Donald Trump and his strong support for the Israeli occupation.
Pompeo said in a statement to reporters, “The US State Department has always taken the wrong stance towards settlements and has not recognized history. Today the United States stands firmly by recognizing that settlements can be dealt with in a legal and appropriate manner.”
After his visit to “Psagot” settlement, which is built on the Palestinian lands in the city of Al-Bireh, the American minister stated that he “enjoyed the view” from the settlement, and drank the settlement toast in its wine factory.
Fury in beer
The visit came amid Palestinian official and popular rejection, as political circles described it as a provocation, and it represented an American partnership for the Israeli occupation.
The city of Al-Bireh witnessed clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli occupation forces in protest against the visit.
For its part, the Palestinian presidency condemned the visit “strongly”, and the presidential spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said in a statement, “This decision is a blatant challenge to all international legitimacy decisions … This American move will not legitimize the Israeli settlements that will disappear sooner or later.” .
Abu Rudeineh called on the international community, specifically the Security Council, to “assume its responsibilities and implement its decisions, especially the last resolution 2334, which came with the approval of the previous US administration.”
Enjoyed lunch at the scenic Psagot Winery today. Unfortunately, Psagot and other businesses have been targeted by pernicious EU labeling efforts that facilitate the boycott of Israeli companies. The U.S. stands with Israel and will not tolerate any form of delegitimization. pic.twitter.com/N4oCD5IqRB
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 19, 2020
Al-Jazeera correspondent Shirin Abu Aqleh from the city of Al-Bireh said that the Palestinians fear the attempts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exploit the last weeks in the tenure of US President Donald Trump to achieve achievements on the settlement level, which would strengthen his position on the Israeli right.
And Washington previously announced on this day last year that it no longer considers settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories an illegal act.
On the other hand, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned Pompeo’s visit to the settlement, describing it in a statement as “a very dangerous step.”
The statement added that the visit “contravenes United Nations resolutions, which considers Israel’s settlement activities in the Palestinian territories a violation of the laws, foremost of which is Resolution 2334 of the United Nations Security Council, of which the United States is a permanent member.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry considered that the visit aims to legalize the illegal activities of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.
After his visit to the settlement of Psagot, Pompeo moved to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, where he said that Israel has the right to defend what he called its sovereignty, indicating that the Trump administration will ensure that Israel continues to do so.
Pompeo added that, as an army officer, he remembered the pressures exerted on Israel to return the Golan to Syria. “We have to imagine if Assad was controlling this area,” he added.
This is the first visit by a high-ranking US official in the US administration to the Golan, while he is in charge of his work. Last year, the Trump administration announced its recognition of what it called Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.
Damascus: A provocative move
For its part, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Pompeo’s visit, describing it as a provocation, according to what was reported by the official media in Damascus, according to an official source in the ministry.
The source said that his country “condemns in the strongest terms” Pompeo’s visit to “Israeli settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
He described the visit as a “provocative step prior to the end of the Trump administration’s term and a flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” calling on the United Nations and the international community to condemn it because it “violates Security Council Resolution 497 and the international consensus that rejected Israel’s decision to annex the Golan.”
Also within the framework of his visit to the region, Pompeo announced during a conference A joint journalist with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in occupied Jerusalem decided to classify a number of organizations, including the BDS movement, as anti-Semitic.
Pompeo addressed Netanyahu by saying, “I want you to know that we will immediately take steps to identify organizations that participate in the abhorrent boycott behavior and withdraw US government support for such groups,” describing the BDS movement as “cancer.”
For his part, Netanyahu praised the efforts of the US President in support of Israel. He said that the alliance between Washington and Tel Aviv reached “unprecedented” levels during the Trump era, and that it was thanks to him that Israel achieved peace with Bahrain, the Emirates and Sudan.