image Photo: Reuters

Pompeo opens peace tour in Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem this morning, where he commended the Trump Administration. “You have stood up to Iran’s aggression and triggered the snapback sanctions,” said the Premier.

Going on to lambast the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, he said, “I think people should realize that the Iran deal failed just as we predicted. Not only did it not nullify Iran’s aggression; It fueled it and increased it. And, we have seen Iran since the JCPOA was concluded, emerging from its cage and devouring one country after another, targeting countries with rockets with terrorism, with pillage and plunder, and murder all over the Middle East, and even beyond the Middle East.”

Netanyahu also rebuked the members of the United Nations Security Council who failed to support Washington recent bid to extend sanctions against Tehran, while calling on other nations to take heed when Israel and the Arab world have reached consensus on a critical matter. “Countries in the Gulf speak out as forcefully as I am doing now. And I think that I would suggest to our friends, especially our European friends, this point: when Arabs and Israelis agree on something it makes sense to pay attention. So, congratulations on the stand, on the snapback, and your overall opposition to Iran’s aggression and its quest for nuclear weapons.”

Secretary Pompeo reiterated U.S. President Donald Trump commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring atomic bombs, and called on the international community to publicly account for the fact that the Ayatollah regime is on the cusp of having access to advanced weapon systems. “We are determined to use every tool that we have to ensure that they can’t get access to high-end weapon systems, air defense systems,” said the top U.S. diplomat, stressing that, “We think that it’s in the best interest of the whole world. Many of these leaders tell me so privately. It is time to stand up. It is time to publicly account for the fact that Iran on the cusp, on October the 18th, of having access to those weapons. And, the money that will come from their sale, of those weapons, that will be used to inflict real harm not only in the Middle East, but in Europe as well.”

Both Netanyahu and Pompeo also made separate mention of the recently-announced accord between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi, along with vague reference to anticipated prospects that additional Arab states will follow suit in the near future. After thanking President Trump for having helped broker “full normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates” with Pompeo’s assistance, the Premier called the development “a boon to peace and to regional stability” which he said “heralds a new era where we could have other nations join. We discussed this and I hope we will have good news in the future, maybe in the near future.”

Secretary Pompeo said that “what is taking place here is deeply consistent with what President Trump set out to do: create a more stable, more prosperous Middle East. This is a really good step in that direction.”

Netanyahu again refuted reports that the Israeli-Emirate accord enabled the U.S. sale of advanced weapon-systems to Abu Dhabi. “I have to say simply that this deal did not include Israel’s acceptance of any arms deal. And, I don’t know of any arms deal that has been agreed upon,” he insisted, adding that “Our position hasn’t changed, but I also learned from Secretary Pompeo – heard against a very strong commitment, that under all circumstances – the United States will ensure Israel’s qualitative edge.”

The visiting American diplomat conveyed the intention of the White House to ensure that the UAE has the capacity to confront threats posed by Iran while preserving Israel’s military superiority in the region. “The United States has a legal requirement with respect to (Israel’s) qualitative military edge. We will continue to honor that,” he said, going on to explain, “but, we have a 20+ year security relationship with the United Arab Emirates as well, where we have provided them with technical assistance and military assistance. We will now continue to review that process to continue to make sure that we’re delivering them with the equipment that they need to secure and defend their own people from this same threat, from the Islamic Republic of Iran as well. We are deeply committed to doing that, to achieving that, and we will do it in a way that observes our commitment Israel as well.”

It is important to mention that Secretary Pompeo was accompanied by Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook, while the diplomatic corps for Mideast peace will return to the region early next month.

After holding talks with Israeli Alternate Premier Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem, Pompeo will continue his regional visit to promote peace. In addition to the UAE; he will visit Sudan, Oman and Bahrain – all of which have been mentioned as potential candidates to normalize relations with the Jewish State in the near future.

“As I travel through the rest of this trip, I am very hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this – the opportunity for them to work alongside, to recognize the State of Israel and to work alongside them will not only increase Middle East stability – but will improve the lives of the people of their own countries, as well,” said the U.S. Secretary of State.