Report: Pompeo met with PA security chief

PA official says Secretary of State met with the PA chief of security and intelligence despite PA boycott of the Trump administration.

Elad Benari ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

A rare meeting between American and Palestinian Arab officials took place last month in Washington when Mike Pompeo, recently appointed Secretary of State, sat down with Majid Faraj, the head of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) security and intelligence services, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The meeting took place shortly before Pompeo was sworn in, while he was still the head of the CIA, according to the report.

It was the most high-ranking meeting between PA and American representatives in months, ever since the PA decided to boycott the Trump administration over the U.S. president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A PA official told Haaretz that the meeting was held between "official security ranks," emphasizing that it took place before Pompeo took on a political and diplomatic role at the U.S. State Department.

The same official told the newspaper that despite the PA boycott of the Trump administration, security talks between the two sides continue to take place and focus on a wide-range of regional issues – not just a potential future Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Trump administration is expected to unveil its plan for reaching Israeli-PA peace agreement at the end of June. It is likely that Washington will try to synchronize presenting “the ultimate deal,” as President Trump calls it, with presenting a plan for a ceasefire in Gaza, according to Haaretz.

PA officials have repeatedly rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal before it has even been made public, claiming it was coordinated with Israel.

Faraj’s talk with Pompeo, according to PA officials who spoke to Haaretz, touched among other things on a meeting of the Palestinian National Council that took place in Ramallah a few days after Faraj visited Washington.

Faraj is considered one of the people closest to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. His meeting with Pompeo is part of a close relationship between the two intelligence chiefs, which began last winter when Faraj helped arrange a visit for Pompeo in Ramallah. A PA official told Haaretz that the U.S. and Israel are looking at the Palestinian issue from national security standpoints, which is why it was important for Faraj to meet Pompeo before the council’s convention and Pomeo’s promotion to the State Department.

The meeting with Pompeo also took place at a time when interest in Abbas’s health was growing in both the U.S. and the Middle East and could signal an American attempt to ensure stability and governance on the Palestinian side in the days after Abbas, according to the report.

Abbas was discharged on Monday after being hospitalized in a Ramallah hospital for nine days due to pneumonia. In February, the PA chairman was admitted to an American hospital but denied his health was deteriorating and insisted he had been given a clean bill of health.

The State Department did not respond to the Haaretz story by the time of its publication.