November 20, 2020
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his wife, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the City of David.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made history Thursday when he became the first US top diplomat to make an official visit to Judea and Samaria.
Pompeo visited the Psagot Winery in the Shaar Binyamin Commercial Center and the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site in the Jordan River Valley.
The Regavim Movement, which is based in Shaar Binyamin, welcomed Pompeo with signs: "Thank you in the name of the people of Israel."
"Secretary Pompeo is a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria," says Meir Deutsch, Director General of the Regavim Movement. "The policy statement issued last year, now known as the Pompeo Doctrine, is an expression of truth and moral clarity regarding the State of Israel, and sets aside a gross distortion of history and international law. On behalf of all citizens of Israel, we thank him for his courageous stance and for his friendship."
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During the visit to the winery, Pompeo was gifted with an ancient coin inscribed in ancient Hebrew that was discovered in wine cellar caves, as well as copies of the declaration of King Cyrus, the Balfour Declaration, and Pompeo's own declaration of the US government's position on Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria.
"The three historic declarations establish the eternal, unbreakable bond between the Land of Israel and the Jewish nation," the Benyamin Regional Council explained. "We consider this visit to be an important message that sees Binyamin as a valuable and significant region for the State of Israel."
Pompeo "displayed leadership and a deep connection to the history of the Jewish nation in Zion in his historic declaration recognizing the legality of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. This declaration will be remembered with the preceding historical declarations made in support of Israel," it added.
In November 2019, Pompeo announced a historic shift in the US administration's approach to the legal status of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and stated that "based on facts, history and special circumstances," the US "will no longer ascribe to the categorization of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria as contrary to international law."
"Secretary Pompeo's visit to Psagot is a historic event, showing that the US does not only regard Israeli settlements as not illegal "per se," but actually legal and legitimate in practice," explained Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum.
He noted that while Pompeo's successor in the Biden administration is "unlikely to repeat this visit, he cannot undo it either."
He called on Pompeo to "translate his visit into policy, by ensuring that Psagot wines and other Israeli products from the area can be labeled "Made in Israel" when imported to the US, and prevent future administrations from requiring them to be labeled "Made in West Bank."
While in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Pompeo visited the City of David in the Old City.
"Wonderful to see the work being done to preserve the ancient City of David and the new discoveries by archaeologists working in the area," he tweeted after the visit.
Mike Pompeo on the Golan Heights
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an historic visit to the Golan Heights on Thursday. He spoke about his early days as an army cadet when he learned about the famous battles that took place on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHKENAZI: Secretary, I'll just state, a great friend of Israel. (Inaudible) Pompeo and the Ambassador. We just had a great visit and I think briefing about the Golan Heights. I would like to take the opportunity to thank both the President Trump and the Secretary for their long support for the security and the fate of the State of Israel. Secretary made an historic visit to the Golan Heights, I think first ever to here.
He — as a former head of the CIA, he knows — he knows the facts, but he insisted to come to see firsthand and to hear the briefing from the military commanders and to hear from our legendary hero, Kahalani, what happened. In his background, he was an officer, armored officer, so he knew the story, but — and I think there is no need to explain when you stand here what's the strategic importance of the Golan Heights. So thank you for recognizing the sovereignty of the State of Israel. Thank you for coming, and really appreciate it.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Minister. Secretary of State.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thirty-five years ago as a young cadet, I studied about this very place — this amazing and important piece of real estate. You can't stand here and stare out at what's across the border and deny the central thing that President Trump recognized that previous presidents had refused to do. But this is a part of Israel and a central part of Israel.
I remember too not long after I was a cadet, I was an officer in the United States Army. And I remember the international pressure to return this very place to Syria. It was all the rage in the salons in Europe and in the elite institutions in America to say that this should be returned to Syria. Imagine, imagine with Assad in control of this place, the risk, the harm to the West and to Israel and to the people of Israel. President Trump just recognized the basic fact that this indeed is part of Israel. And it was an honor to be there. It was an honor to be here with General Kahalani and to hear the story — the famous battle of the Valley of Tears fought here where as a younger officer he saved this great nation. So it's great to be here with you.
I told the Prime Minister that I very much wanted to come here on this trip to tell the world that we have it right. That we, the United States, has it right and that Israel has it right. And that each nation has the right to defend itself and its own sovereignty. And that the United States of America and the Trump Administration will continue to do all that we can to make sure that Israel has what it needs to do just that. And we will honor your right to defend your own people. So thank you very much Mr. Foreign Minister for being with me, and thank you all for joining us out here today. Thanks.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASHKENAZI: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, excellencies. Thank you all.