Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated current CIA chief Mike Pompeo on his candidacy to become U.S. Secretary of State in a phone conversation Monday. The two discussed the excellent relationship between Israel and the U.S. and their common opportunities in the Middle East and world, according to the Prime Minister's Office.
Pompeo is U.S. President Donald Trump's pick to replace Rex Tillerson after he was abruptly fired last week from the post. Pompeo has a record of strong support for the Israeli government and fierce opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.
Pompeo spent the last 15 months as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and prior to that, was a member of Congress for five years, representing the 4th Congressional District of Kansas.
During his brief tenure at the CIA, Pompeo enjoyed friendly relationships with his counterparts in the Israeli Intelligence community. He also played a role in maintaining ties between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority's security and intelligence forces. Last February, Pompeo was the first senior official in the Trump administration to visit Ramallah and meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as part of the administration's early attempts to build a relationship with the Palestinian leadership.
Pompeo is notable for his hawkish line on Iran, both as CIA Director and, prior to that, as a Member of Congress. He has warned that the Iran nuclear deal was failing, and has compared Iran to ISIS. He has also said that nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea was "a real risk" to the United States. While serving in Congress, Pompeo was among the most outspoken Republican critics of President Barack Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East.