Pompeo starts unprecedented tour of West Bank settlement, Golan

Pompeo starts unprecedented tour of West Bank settlement, Golan

Netanyahu, who has congratulated Biden, thanked Pompeo for his "unwavering support" of Israel, first as Central Intelligence Agency director and then secretary of state, while claiming that under Trump the US-Israeli relationship "reached unprecedented heights".

He also issued guidelines for Israeli products made in settlements to be labelled "Made in Israel" or "Product of Israel" when exported to the United States, removing the distinction between goods made within Israel and those produced in occupied territory.

In addition to Israel and the USA, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru also voted against the resolution.

On Thursday morning, Pompeo appeared alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said both Pompeo and Trump were long-standing friends of Israel.

Senior Palestinian and Israeli officials today held their first high-profile meeting since the resumption of relations between the two sides after around six months of breakup and it was agreed that Israel would transfer Palestinian tax funds withheld since May.

Pompeo insisted that the USA still remains committed to achieving "sustainable peace" and will "continue to oppose those countries and worldwide institutions which delegitimize or penalize Israel and Israeli producers in the West Bank through malicious measures that fail to recognize the reality on the ground".

But Palestinians and much of the world regard those settlements as illegal under worldwide law.

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Condemning Pompeo's announcement, Human Rights Watch said "the Trump administration has no business trying to tar groups because they back boycotts", which it said had been used to advance social justice throughout American history.

The decision on labelling "blatantly violates global law", said Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, dismissing it as another biased move by Mr Trump's administration.

An Israeli air force Blackhawk helicopter carrying US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hovers in the settlers industrial park of Sha'ar Binyamin near the Israeli Psagot settlement in the occupied West Bank north of Jerusalem November 19, 2020.

France described Pompeo's trip as a courtesy visit and said it was fully transparent with the team of Biden, whose victory has been hailed in European capitals after four years of tensions with the unilateral-minded Trump. Pompeo said on Thursday that the recognition was "historically important and simply a recognition of the reality".

"Imagine with (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad in control of this place, the risk of the harm to the West and to Israel", Pompeo said.

Pompeo and Netanyahu stood by the previous day when Bahrain's foreign minister called for fresh Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

US President Donald Trump's administration is labeling the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel "anti-Semitic".

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