TEL AVIV – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel next week as part of a brief tour of the region ahead of the Trump administration’s unveiling of its long-awaited peace plan in April.
Pompeo said he plans to visit Lebanon, Israel and Kuwait, and while he declined to give exact dates, the State Department confirmed that the trip would take place before Israel’s general election on April 9.
Israel’s attorney general last week announced his intention to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Pompeo’s trip was not intended to send a message of support or otherwise. “Israel is an ally,” Palladino said. “We’re not going to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.”
The indictment announcement prompted President Donald Trump to praise Netanyahu as “tough, smart, and strong.”
“I can say this, he’s done a great job as prime minister,” Trump said last week.
“He’s tough, smart, and strong. He’s very defensive, his military has been built up a lot, they buy a lot of equipment from the United States, and they pay for it,” he added.
Pompeo visited several countries in the region earlier this year but had to cut the trip short due to family concerns. On that trip, he did not get a chance to visit Gulf states as intended.
“This is very much the continuation of that previous trip,” Palladino said.