In New Book, Pompeo Accuses Netanyahu of Spreading False Rumor for Political Gain

Pompeo writes about Netanyahu deliberately leaking a nonexistent pledge to advance a formal defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel for political purposes: 'It was false, but it was a good story for him'

The Forward
Jacob Kornbluh
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mike Pompeo, then-Secretary of State of the United States of America, in Lisbon, Portugal in December 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mike Pompeo, then-Secretary of State of the United States of America, in Lisbon, Portugal in December 2019.Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
The Forward
Jacob Kornbluh

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a potential presidential candidate in 2024, writes in a new memoir that the U.S. relationship with Israel is uniquely important, and more critical than its deeply rooted alliance with the United Kingdom. But he also accuses Benjamin Netanyahu of skewing the U.S. administration’s commitment to the security of Israel for political gain and by fomenting anxiety.

In Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, set to publish on Tuesday, Pompeo writes that Netanyahu purposely leaked a nonexistent pledge to advance a formal defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel for political reasons.

“It was false,” Pompeo writes about the Israeli announcement following a hastily planned 90-minute meeting between the two in Lisbon, Portugal, in December 2019. “But it was a good story for him.” Netanyahu was in the midst of the second of three consecutive and contentious Israeli election campaigns that year and was also lobbying for approval of his plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State in Lisbon, Portugal on December 4, 2019.Credit: Photo by Koby Gideon (GPO)

Pompeo served first as CIA director and later as secretary of state for most of the Trump administration.

During his tenure, he took a leading role in pursuing a more favorable approach toward Israel in the Middle East conflict, chief among them declaring that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank do not violate international law. He was criticized for delivering a partisan political speech at the Republican National Convention in 2020 from Jerusalem.

The former top U.S. diplomat writes that Netanyahu requested the 2019 meeting because he was “worried” that Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser who was in the final stages of releasing the administration’s Middle East peace plan, was “too willing to give up on Jerusalem.” Pompeo, along with his senior adviser Brian Hook, were part of the U.S. team working on the plan.

In the book, Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, suggests that “America’s real special relationship may be the one we have with Israel” because its survival “matters for the security and prosperity of every American.”

The former Secretary of State also writes that he was inspired by the story of Israel’s founding and “resolved to leave it even stronger than I found it.”

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