US Secretary of State Pompeo 'hopeful' more Arab states will establish ties with Israel

He arrived in Israel on the first leg of his Middle East tour to step up the Trump administration’s peace initiative

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel on Monday and expressed hope that more Arab states would establish ties with the country.

"I'm very hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this," he said in Jerusalem, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu said the deal with the Emirates, brokered by US President Donald Trump, "was a boon to peace and regional stability".

"I think it heralds a new era where we could have other nations join," he added. "I hope we'll have good news in the future, maybe in the near future."

Mr Pompeo spoke of the opportunity awaiting future partners "to work alongside, to recognise the State of Israel".

The US secretary of state is on the first leg of his Middle East visit to press the momentum of the Trump administration’s Arab-Israeli peace push.

Mr Pompeo met Mr Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem and the two discussed the recently announced historic agreement between Israel and the UAE, brokered by Washington, to establish diplomatic ties. The two were expected to also discuss Iran and China.

The agreement delivered a key foreign policy victory to President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election.

This month, the US, Israel and the UAE announced the peace accord to pave the way for full diplomatic relations.

The accord requires Israel to freeze its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank sought by the Palestinians as part of their future state.

Later in the trip, Mr Pompeo was to meet with Mr Netanyahu’s partner in the government and Defence Minister Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured) make joint statements during a news conference after a meeting in Jerusalem, August 24, 2020. Debbie Hill/Pool via REUTERS

Mr Pompeo is also due to visit Sudan, the UAE and Bahrain, with additional stops in the Gulf possible, the State Department said.

In Sudan, the secretary of state said he would push for “deepening Sudan-Israel relationship”.

Before Mr Pompeo’s arrival, the Israeli military said it struck militant targets in the Gaza Strip early on Monday, in response to incendiary balloons launched into Israel the day before.

It was the latest exchange as tension between the two sides intensified in recent weeks.

The army said it bombed “military posts and an underground infrastructure” belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Militants affiliated with Hamas have launched scores of incendiary balloons into southern Israel in recent weeks, causing extensive damage to farmland.

They are trying to pressure Israel into easing the blockade imposed since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

On Friday, Palestinian militants launched 12 rockets at Israel, nine of which were intercepted, in the largest outbreak of violence in recent months.

Israel has responded to the balloons and sporadic rocket fire with air strikes on militant positions.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and smaller skirmishes in the past 13 years.

Last week Egyptian mediators tried to ease tension and bolster the informal truce between Israel and Hamas that has largely held since the 2014 war in Gaza.