Pompeo makes unprecedented visit to Israeli settlement in West Bank

Publishedduration24 minutes agoimage copyrightEPAimage captionMike Pompeo is making what is likely to be his last trip to Israel before leaving office in January

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is touring a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, marking the first such visit by a top US official.

The trip to Psagot comes a year after Mr Pompeo said the settlements did not contradict international law, reversing a long-held US position.

The declaration outraged Palestinians, who oppose settlements on land they claim for a future independent state.

Mr Pompeo will later pay a similar visit to the occupied Golan Heights.

President Donald Trump last year officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981.

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Mr Pompeo arrived in Israel on Wednesday for what is likely to be his last trip to Israel before leaving office in January.

On Thursday morning, he held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

At a joint news conference, Mr Pompeo announced that the state department would declare as anti-Semitic the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

"We will immediately take steps to identify organisations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support for such groups," he said.

Israel says that BDS opposes the country's very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism – BDS rejects the charge, saying Israel is using it as a cover for its actions.

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