US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first top diplomat of the United States to visit an Israeli settlement in the politically sensitive region of West Bank at a time when the Trump Administration is in its last phase. The visit by Pompeo clearly underscores the Trump Administration’s support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his bid to consolidate his position over the disputed areas.
It needs to be stated that Trump had recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy there way back on December 6, 2017. In 2019, Secretary Pompeo, to the dismay of Palestinians, announced that the United States under the Trump Administration no longer regarded the Israeli settlements as “inconsistent with international law”. The move was seen as a departure from traditional US foreign policy which seeks to balance the rights of Palestinians on the one hand and America’s strong ties with the Jewish state of Israel on the other.
Mr. Pompeo also visited the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war. In 1991, Israel declared Golan Heights as its own territory.
Anyway, the visit of Mr. Pompeo to the West Bank is likely to have its ramifications in the entire Middle East though it comes in the fag end of Mr. Trump’s term. Shortly after the visit, the State Department issued guidelines that Israeli products made in the settlements will carry the label “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel” when imported to the United States. Clearly, the move was intended to remove the distinction between products made in Israel and those made in the occupied territories.
In conclusion, Mr. Pompeo’s visit is a departure from past policy which had till now kept US officials away from the disputed areas. Incidentally, he didn’t meet any Palestinian this time.