Pompeo in Israeli settlement, first for secretary of state
First visit of an American Secretary of State to an Israeli colony in the occupied West Bank and defense of the "Made in Israel" label: Mike Pompeo took advantage of his farewell tour in the Middle East on Thursday to anchor the legacy of the Trump administration in favor of the Hebrew state.
And receive in passing a bottle of wine named in his honor, courtesy of the Israeli Psagot vineyard, located in a settlement in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel.
"The vines of the Israeli vineyards on the spot tell a story of 2,000 years, that of the relationship between a people and its land", indicated the services of Mr. Pompeo after this visit condemned by the Palestinian Authority.
Under Donald Trump's administration, the United States has shown unparalleled support for the Jewish state with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the approval of Israeli sovereignty over the part of the Golan Heights taken from Israel. Syria in 1967 and support for colonization in the West Bank.
Pompeo was also due to make the first visit by a US secretary of state to the occupied Golan on Thursday. Under Trump, the United States became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over this strategic territory at the crossroads of Lebanon and Syria, a measure denounced by many states.
In the West Bank, Israeli colonization has boomed in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and since the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House.
More than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements, deemed illegal by international law, in the West Bank, where approximately 2.8 million Palestinians live.
A year ago, Mr. Pompeo asserted that these settlements were no longer, according to Washington, in violation of international law. "For a long time the State Department took the wrong approach on the settlements (...) Today it vigorously defends the recognition that the settlements can be legal," he reiterated Thursday.
In the Israeli vineyard of Psagot, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Yaakov Berg had in 2019 uncorked good bottles in honor of Mr. Pompeo. Today, he has prepared a Pompeo cuvée whose label is enhanced with the hashtag "#madeinlegality (" legally conceived ")". "We did not steal this land."
A 2019 French decision then validated by the European Court ruled that the products of the settlements in the West Bank could not be qualified as originating from Israel but from the settlements.
Nonetheless, Mr. Pompeo turned the equation upside down by not only changing US settlement policy and going to a settlement himself, but also by announcing a change in labels for products from the West Bank to the US.
BDS and "Made in Israel"
The Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accords in the 1990s divided the West Bank into three zones -A, B and C.
The first two make up 40% of the territory and are placed mainly under Palestinian control. Zone C (60%) is under Israeli control but with the idea of a planned transfer, and to be defined, to the Palestinians during a final peace agreement.
However, for Israel, "Zone C", where most of the agricultural Jordan valley and all the settlements are located, cannot be considered as "Palestinian" but "disputed" territory because no agreement has yet been reached. to seal a final peace.
The new US approach "recognizes that Zone C producers operate under Israel's administrative and legal framework and that their products should be regarded as such," Pompeo said.
This change means for example that wine in Mr. Pompeo's name would be a "product of Israel", but it also suggests that dates for example from Palestinian farmers living in "Zone C" will also fall under the label "Israel. ".
Another gesture towards Israel: Mr Pompeo, who is due to step down in the coming weeks after Democrat Joe Biden's presidential victory - said the Hebrew state's BDS boycott campaign is on trial "anti-Semitic" by the United States.
"We will take immediate action to identify organizations involved in the BDS hate campaign and withdraw US support for these groups," he added. Comments immediately criticized by human rights organizations.