Pompeo affirms strong U.S.-Israel ties

“The U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger today than it has ever been,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “and that’s good for both countries.”

Pompeo, addressing the Jewish Institute for National Security of America in Washington on October 10, praised Israel as a sturdy democracy while citing sharp differences between it and its autocratic adversary, Iran.

“Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward,” said the secretary of state, who received a distinguished service award from the institute. “It is democratic and prosperous. It desires peace. And it is a home to a free press and a thriving free-market economy.”

In comparison, corrupt leaders in Iran “assault the human rights of their own people, finance terrorism, and undermine U.S. interests in every corner of the Middle East,” he said.

Pompeo also hailed changes in U.S. policy under President Trump, including recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy there (“common sense” measures) and making the largest-ever commitment of military aid to Israel — $3.8 billion annually starting in 2019.

He also said Trump “took a stand against anti-Semitism on the world stage by withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council,” which routinely castigates Israel.

The Trump administration, Pompeo said, is “making a truly historic push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” Details of the plan have not been released yet.

He accused Iran of using instability in Syria to establish “a second front where its proxies can terrorize the Israeli people.”

The United States seeks “a peaceful and political resolution to the Syrian conflict and the removal of all Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from Syria,” Pompeo said.

The goal of the administration’s strict sanctions and diplomatic and economic pressure against the Iranian regime “is simple: to cut off the revenues the regime uses to spread terror and chaos, to fund its nuclear programs, and line its own pockets with money that should be given to the Iranian people,” he said.

Underlying Trump’s policy is the president’s belief that “Israel, like all nations, has the right to defend its own sovereignty,” Pompeo said. “That means we’ll continue to stand up for its right to target Iranian-backed militias within Syria for as long as that threat remains.”

Watch this video about the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship.