“You’re an incredibly important partner, [and] occupy a special place in my heart too,” Pompeo told Netanyahu in Israel. 

By: United with Israel Staff and JNS

New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel Sunday afternoon to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Israel’s Defense Ministry.

Pompeo was sworn into office on Thursday before flying to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The Middle East tour occurs ahead of US President Trump’s upcoming decision, to be announced May 12, on whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and restart nuclear sanctions on Iran, as well as the upcoming inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14.

Upon landing in Israel, the secretary of state was greeted by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, the Prime Minister congratulated Pompeo on his new post and said, “We are very proud of the fact that this is your first visit as secretary of state.”

Pompeo replied, “You’re an incredibly important partner, [and] occupy a special place in my heart too.”

The US is ‘with Israel in this Fight’

In a joint press conference with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Pompeo said that Trump remained committed to exiting the nuclear deal with Iran if changes aren’t made, adding that Iranian aggression against Israel was also of concern.

“President Trump’s been pretty clear: This deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can’t fix it he’s going to withdraw from the deal,” Pompeo said.

Warning about the Islamic Republic’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East, he said the US “remain[s] deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains.”

“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo declared.

Netanyahu noted that Iran’s “aggression has grown many folds since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened.”

“Iran is trying to gobble up one country after another,” Netanyahu emphasized. “Iran must be stopped.”

Pompeo did not request any meetings with Palestinian officials during his visit. The Palestinian leaders have been boycotting the US administration since Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

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