Pompeo to Netanyahu: Confronting Iran Key to Mideast Stability, Peace

In Warsaw Mideast convention, PM also expected to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and discuss Trump peace plan with Jared Kushner

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.
AFP

WARSAW - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday it is impossible to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.

Pompeo is in Warsaw to participate in a conference on the Middle East co-hosted by Poland and the U.S. State Department that was originally supposed to focus on Iran, but the title was later changed to “Promoting a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.” 

>>Read more: Warsaw summit won't create alliance against Iran, but may embolden Israeli-Arab relations | Analysis 

Speaking to reporters alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo said "You can't achieve stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran. It's just not possible."

"There are malign influences in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq," Pompeo added. "The three H's- the Houthis, Hamas and Hezbollah. These are real threats."

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he will be meeting in Warsaw with 60 foreign ministers and representatives "in order to promote the common interest of war against Iran." 

Netanyahu was speaking in Hebrew, and his social media team later deleted this translation and posted again using slightly different terminology of "combating Iran."

Netanyahu sits next to world leaders during a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, February 14, 2109.
Noa Landau

Speaking alongside Pompeo, Netanyahu called the conference a "historical turning point."

"An Israeli prime minister and the foreign ministers of leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against the common threat of the Iranian regime," the prime minister said. 

"This marks a change and an important understanding in what threatens our future and what we have to do to secure it and the possibilities of cooperation that extend beyond security to every realm of life for the peoples of the Middle East," Netanyahu added. 

The conference is commencing behind closed doors and the main topics for discussion will be Yemen, Syria, an American peace plan to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the status of refugees and Iran's ballistic missile program.

The prime minister is also set to meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the convention. U.S. President Donald Trump's senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner is also attending with Trump's Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt. The two are set discuss the economic aspects of the peace plan with Netanyahu and Arab leaders.

Netanyahu during the conference in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.
Noa Landau

Kushner will also hold a closed discussion over the plan with former Norweigian foreign minister, Børge Brende, marking the second time Kushner will discuss the plan in public. 

On Wednesday Netanyahu met with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawit who hailed a "new ear" for the Middle East and thanked him for his country's Israel policy. "The courageous decision of Sultan Qaboos to invite me to Oman is changing the world," Netanyahu said.

Relations between Israel and a number of the countries on the list have warmed considerably in the past year, and with three of those countries to a point where Netanyahu has been particularly interested in upgrading relations with them: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco. Iranian representatives did not participate in the conference, and the Palestinians also announced that they were boycotting it. 

The Polish Foreign Ministry announced two days ago that about 60 countries had confirmed their participation in the event, including Arab nations. Besides Oman, representatives from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Tunisia were attending.