Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning a trip to Israel this week, a visit that could coincide with the Biden administration’s efforts to solidify a cease-fire agreement between the key US ally and Hamas militants.
Pompeo is slated to travel to Israel in a private capacity to celebrate the retirement of Yossi Cohen, the head of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, a source close to the former secretary of state confirmed. The former Trump administration official may also meet with nongovernmental officials if the trip takes place.
The planned trip has yet to be finalized due to COVID-19 restrictions in Israel, the source added. Politico was first to report on Pompeo’s planned trip. Pompeo became a Fox News contributor in April.
Current Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to travel to the Middle East this week to meet with several regional leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Pompeo notified Blinken of his plans to travel to Israel.
Israeli officials approved a cease-fire agreement last week amid mounting pressure from President Biden and top officials in his administration.
Pompeo was an outspoken defender of Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict with Hamas, asserting during an appearance on Fox News last week that Israel was “simply trying to defend themselves.”
“Israel has every right to do all that it needs to not only defend itself against the current rocket attacks but to make sure that that kind of attack can never happen again,” Pompeo said. “They need to complete that mission. It’s absolutely essential for the security of Israel that they do so.”
Pompeo has argued the Biden administration’s decision to engage in discussions on a potential US return to the Iranian nuclear deal contributed to the conflict in the region. He warned that money diverted to Iran as part of a renewed agreement could be used to fund Hamas.
In Sept. 2020, Pompeo drew scrutiny after he delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention during a diplomatic trip to Israel. Critics argued the speech constituted a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from engaging in political activity.
Pompeo later said the State Department had reviewed the situation and determined it was “lawful.”