Pompeo reportedly planning trip to Israel on heels of successor Blinken

Former US secretary of state and likely 2024 Republican presidential candidate says he’s planning private trip to mark retirement of Mossad chief

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the West Side Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, March 26, 2021. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the West Side Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, March 26, 2021. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Former US secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to visit Israel later this week, likely just missing his successor, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who arrived on Tuesday.

Pompeo, who would come as a private citizen, has not finalized his plans due to Israel’s travel restrictions on foreign entry to the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Politico news site reported Monday, citing a source close to the former secretary.

The source said that Pompeo, who is also a former head of the CIA, wants to celebrate the retirement of Yossi Cohen as head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.

Pompeo notified Blinken of his plans and intends to meet privately with non-government officials, the source said.

David Barnea (left, named on May 24, 2021, as the incoming head of the Mossad, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing Mossad head Yossi Cohen. (Amos Ben-Gershom)

Blinken is on a three-day trip to the region to cement a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group following a recent bout of fighting.

During his term in office, Pompeo was a committed defender of Israel and was secretary of state when the US-brokered the Abraham Accords, which saw the normalization of ties between Israel and two Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020. Since then Morocco and Sudan have also opened diplomatic relations with Israel.

In November 2020 Pompeo became the first US secretary of state to visit a West Bank settlement, a move he made shortly after the election that saw then-president Donald Trump defeated. He also took a trip to the Golan Heights, another first for a top US envoy since Washington recognized Israeli sovereignty over the plateau during the Trump administration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on May 25, 2021 (Screenshot)

Since leaving office, Pompeo has continued to back Israel.

During the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Pompeo defended Israel’s military response to thousands of rockets launched at the country.

“Israelis are simply trying to defend themselves,” he told Fox News in an interview. “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. They need to complete that mission. It’s absolutely essential for the security of Israel that they do so.”

Pompeo is considered a likely Republican candidate for the 2024 US presidential elections.

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