Pompeo to Visit Israel, Meet Netanyahu Next Week

Pompeo - who is considered a hawk supportive of Netanyahu's positions on Iran - was confirmed as Trump's secretary of state Thursday

Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo attends a lunch meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, March 20, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel next week. During his visit, Pompeo is expected to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The Senate confirmed Pompeo's appointment on Thursday. Pompeo is likely to attend a NATO summit on Friday.

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The U.S. State Department announced on Thursday that Pompeo will travel to Brussels, Riyadh, Jerusalem and Amman through Monday.

“The Secretary looks forward to meeting key allies and partners on his first official trip as Secretary of State,” the State Department stated in an official release. It noted that Pompeo will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and participate in the NATO Foreign Ministerial, “during which Allies will discuss preparations for July’s NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting.”

During his brief tenure as CIA director, Pompeo enjoyed good 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. He is considered supportive of Netanyahu's positions on Iran.

On Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination on a party-line vote, with all 11 Republicans backing him, nine Democrats opposed and one Democrat, Chris Coons, voting “present” because one Republican was at a funeral out of town.

Pompeo became one of Trump’s closest advisers during his 15 months as CIA director. He most recently has been deeply involved in preparations for Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, including meeting with him three weeks ago.

Many Democrats consider Pompeo hawkish and worry about past harsh statements on homosexuality and Islam. 

“I do not believe Director Pompeo is someone who will always prioritize diplomacy over conflict, particularly in the context of the aggressive foreign policy voices growing around him,” Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said ahead of the confimation, citing Pompeo’s past openness to regime change in North Korea and Iran.

Reuters contributed background to this story