Despite virus, Pompeo in Israel to talk West Bank annexation


Good morning a journey by secretary of state Mike Pompeii raises a question Pompey was in Israel to meet prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new coalition partner Benny Gantz it's only Pompeii second trip abroad since the pandemic curtailed much travel so the question what is happening that made this trip essential NPR's Daniel Estrin joins us from Jerusalem Daniel good morning good morning Tim what's it like anyway when the secretary of state travels during a pandemic it's a lot of choreography to try to keep them in a bubble and this is visit is only six hours long Pompey was doctor is been checking the temperature of the staffers in the reporters on the plane one of those reporters said that many people wore masks on the plane but not all of them and Pompey was getting an exception from Israel's ban on foreign visitors no foreigners are allowed in Israel at all right now when he landed in Israel he was wearing a red white and blue face mask he then delivered remarks standing next to prime minister Netanyahu they stood about six feet away from each other they were not wearing masks but their advisors were and the US ambassador to Israel was not there at all because he has mild upper respiratory symptoms and even though he tested negative for the virus he's not meeting Pompeo just in case is it clear what made this trip so important that's the big question Steve you know why it's just not do it on zoom okay says there are issues he wanted to discuss face to face he mentioned a couple he mentioned keeping up the pressure on Iran Israel's successes in combating the corona virus he also alluded to China's connection to the virus all issues that maybe don't need a face to face meeting in the middle of a pandemic but there is one big topic that a lot of people here talking about that they could be seeking to coordinate on the two leaders and that is trump's Mideast peace plan here's what Pompeo said in a time now we'll get a chance to talk about the vision for peace for now some months on up from the day that you came to Washington with president trump announced that vision for peace when you were there there remains work yet to do and we need to make progress on that I'm looking forward to it and let's just be clear here trump's peace plan would have Israel expand its borders and annex every single Israeli settlements in the occupied west bank and and they tell me I want to do that as early as July what would the United States have to say about such a plan that is the other big question because there are mixed signals coming from the trump administration and from Israeli leaders on what exactly their positions are here I mean Pompeo says it's up to the Israelis decide on on whether to annex the Israelis say depends on U. S. approval but this is a very explosive issue most countries in the world oppose annexation and they want a Palestinian state to be created in the in the west bank instead and you know annexation would anger trump's Arab allies European countries are even considering sanctions on Israel if it annexes land you have that but then on the other hand the west bank is the land of the Bible and an annexation of that land would be very popular with trump's evangelical base especially in the run up to the November elections so I think the big question here is what does Israel want to do does it want to annex leaders here are divided on that the right wing Netanyahu seems to be pushing for it but his centrist partner Danny Gans it doesn't seem to be a Daniel very briefly some people who maybe don't follow the news every day out of Israel may hear you say prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that they're asking wait a minute he's prime minister again he is for the last year and a half the time now was struggling to win a new term but now he and his election rival Danny guns have agreed to a deal that's on you know gets eighteen more months in

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