JERUSALEM – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the Trump administration now considers an international campaign to boycott, divest and impose sanctions against Israel as anti-Semitic and will deny government support to groups that participate in it.
“We want to stand with all the other nations who recognize the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” Pompeo said on the second day of a visit to Israel as he stood with the Premier. Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the move “simply magnificent.”
The announcement came on a swirling day of what the Trump administration describes as victory over its policies towards Israel and the Palestinians – and photo ops that could be of great use to Mr Pompeo, especially with evangelical Christian voters. that he has been courting for a long time. , if he were to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.
“The people in the book haven’t had a best friend,” Netanyahu told him.
Mr Pompeo noted that on Wednesday evening he passed through the City of David, an archaeological site just south of the Old City in an area of East Jerusalem that most countries around the world consider to be illegally occupied territory and that the Palestinians want a future state as the capital.
From Jerusalem on Thursday, he was due to stop for lunch at a vineyard in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, becoming the top US official to make such a visit to the territory.
Outside of the United States, Jewish settlements in the West Bank are widely viewed as a violation of international law, but a year ago, Pompeo rescinded a decades-old State Department memorandum to this effect.
On Thursday afternoon, Pompeo plans another first for a US secretary of state: he is to helicopter to the long-contested Golan Heights along Israel’s border with Syria. Israel annexed the territory in 1981, a decision that the United Nations Security Council rejected in a resolution based on the principle that “the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible”. But President Trump recognized Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights in March 2019.
It was not immediately clear what practical effect, if any, the new policy might have on the BDS movement in the dying days of the Trump administration. Its supporters include some major US religious groups and a variety of liberal advocacy groups.
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank who for years has advocated a boycott of Israel, has attacked Mr. Pompeo’s announcement. It was, he said, the latest in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to throw obstacles in the way of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. – “obstacles they believe to be reversible.” .
“BDS is a peaceful and non-violent movement,” Barghouti said. “It’s not against the Israeli or Jewish people – it’s against the policy of occupation and apartheid.
“Calling him anti-Semitic is another way of taking away people’s rights to free speech and freedom of choice,” Barghouti said, “and also harassment of the American people who have the right to choose. to participate or not. participate. “