Palestinian premier Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Friday that a planned visit by the US secretary of state to an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank would set a “dangerous precedent”.
Mike Pompeo would become the first US secretary of state to visit one of the settlements, which are considered illegal by most of the international community.
The visit planned for next week is a way to “legitimize the settlements” and creates “a dangerous precedent that violates international law”, Shtayyeh said, quoted by the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Pompeo’s visit to Israel comes exactly one year after he said the US did not consider Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal, putting Washington at odds with UN Security Council resolutions.
Pompeo is expected to visit the West Bank winery of Psagot, which has rolled out a label named after him in tribute to his visit, Israeli media reported.
The winery has unsuccessfully challenged a European decision to put a label on all products that come from West Bank settlements.
The State Department has not confirmed Pompeo’s itinerary.
In a statement earlier this week, it said only that he would visit Israel and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Pompeo’s trip comes two months before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, a past critic of settlements.
Aaron David Miller, a veteran US diplomat in the Middle East, tweeted that Pompeo’s visit “isn’t about Trump or Bibi’s politics; it’s about Pompeo and 2024,” referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
Pompeo has made little secret of his aspirations for higher office and has frequently pointed to his support of Israel, a major cause for his Republican Party’s evangelical Christian base.
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