Pompeo, Netanyahu discuss Trump's Syria pullout, Iranian threat

Following ceasefire deal in northern Syria, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Arutz Sheva Staff, AFP,

Mike Pompeo meets Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem
Mike Pompeo meets Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem
David Azagury / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday as President Donald Trump's policy changes on Syria sparked concern among regional allies.

Pompeo arrived in Israel after he and US Vice President Mike Pence negotiated a deal that will see Turkey suspend its Syria offensive, but which drew criticism over what many saw as an abandonment of Washington's Kurdish allies.

Washington's top diplomat and the Israeli prime minister began the meeting on Friday morning at Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem.

"We hope things will turn out for the best," Netanyahu told reporters without elaboration when asked about the Syria deal.

"Netanyahu and I had a productive meeting on efforts to counter the Iranian regime’s malign influence as well as regional developments and other issues related to Israel’s security," Pompeo tweeted Friday morning, following the meeting with the Israeli premier.

After the meeting, Netanyahu said he had spoken with Pompeo about "strengthening" the US-Israel alliance, and "various challenges" facing the region.

“We’ve had important discussions about strengthening our alliance, the region, the various challenges that we face together. And I want to thank you and the President for your consistent support of Israel.”

“The Middle East is a sea of troubles and turbulence. But if there’s one thing that stands out, it is the durability, stability, and strength of the Israel-America alliance. We talked about making it even stronger.”

The Secretary of State added that he and Netanyahu discussed efforts to "push back against the threat" posed by Iran to not only Israel "but to the region and the world".

“The remarkably close relationship between our two countries is as strong as it has ever been. President Trump, of course, said to send his regards to you as well.”

“We had a chance to talk this morning about all the challenges that the world faces, and that Israel and the United States face head-on together as an important beacon of hope here in the Middle East.”

“We talked about all the efforts we’ve made to push back against the threat against not only to Israel but to the region and the world from the Islamic Republic of Iran. And we shared our ideas about how we can ensure Middle East stability together and how we would further our efforts to jointly combat all of the challenges that the world confronts here in the Middle East.”

Israeli leaders have been watching Trump's decisions on Syria closely, concerned that their country too could be abandoned by its most important ally.

Beyond that, Israel has longstanding concerns over whether arch-enemy Iran will move to fill any vacuum in neighboring Syria, where Tehran has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in an eight-year-old civil war.

Netanyahu has also had tense relations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian Authority who has been openly hostile towards Israel.

After the temporary ceasefire was announced, Trump heaped praise on Erdogan, calling him "a hell of a leader."

Netanyahu has been careful not to be seen as criticizing Trump, who has been a key supporter, but last week issued a statement saying Israel strongly condemned Turkey's "invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria".

It also warned "against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies."

Trump triggered the week-long Turkish offensive against the Kurds by withdrawing US troops from northeastern Syria.

He has shifted US policy overwhelmingly in favor of Israel since taking office, including by declaring the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel's capital, but his recent moves related to Syria have led to concern.

Pompeo's visit also comes with Netanyahu's long tenure in power under threat after deadlocked September 17 elections.

The prime minister has so far been unable to form a unity government with his main opponent, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, and could also be indicted for corruption in the weeks ahead.