Pompeo to Visit Israel Less Than a Month Before Election

A State Department spokesperson insists there is 'no message' behind the visit and that the Trump administration is not endorsing Netanyahu's re-election

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle east in Warsaw, February 14, 2019.
AFP

WASHINGTON U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel next week as part of a Middle East tour that will also include stops in Lebanon and Kuwait.

Pompeo announced the visit during a conversation with students in Iowa on Tuesday.

The visit will take place less than a month before the April 9 Israeli election and will help Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political campaign, in which the Likud leader is highlighting his close ties with the Trump administration.

A State Department spokesperson insisted, however, there was "no message" behind the visit and that the Trump administration was not endorsing Netanyahu's re-election.

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The visit will take place just days before Netanyahu will leave for a visit to Washington, where he is expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

Ahead of a decision by Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on whether to indict Netanyahu for corruption, Trump said last Thursday that his counterpart "has done a great job as prime minister."

On the sidelines of a summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, Trump went on to speak of his peace plan, which he said would be unveiled following the general election.

Later Thursday, Mendelblit announced his decision to indict Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three criminal cases, pending a hearing.

Mendelblit's decision came after three years of investigations and marks the first time in Israel's history that an attorney general had announced an indictment against an incumbent prime minister.