Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Psagot Winery north of Jerusalem Sunday, addressing a gathering which included Israeli Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat (Safed).

During the visit, Pompeo discussed his work during the Trump administration with then-US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on a number of issues related to Israel, from the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to a special statement recognizing Israel’s rights to Judea and Samaria.

“When we talked about things in the way the world really ought to exist, and the way the reality on the ground does in fact exist - we know it - I had a great partner here: Ambassador Friedman. He was a bulldozer for the truth. He did it with kindness and gentleness. But no one would mistake it for timidity,” Pompeo told the gathering.

“We conspired to work, to make sure that we told the world the truth. The first truth that we told was that the rightful capital of this nation is where we should have our embassy.”

“I’ll never forget the media saying ‘There will be war. This will create an intifada. This creates enormous risks’. And yet President Trump was bold, he was prepared, and we did the work. And we made the simple, truthful statement and we moved our embassy to the rightful capital of the Jewish nation.”

Pompeo, a former US Army Captain, described his interest in Israel’s wars and the strategic importance of the Golan Heights, having studied the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War while at West Point.

“I’ll never forget when we were discussing the reality on the ground of the Golan Heights. My wife and son will never forget the reality of the Golan Heights.”

“Fifteen years ago… I brought my son here. You won’t find my name, I was a civilian enjoying my life running a small manufacturing company in Kansas. But I wanted my son to know the truth. I wanted him to see it. And I had studied the ’67 War and the ’73 War when I was a student at West Point at the United States Military Academy. So we traveled to the Golan Heights and I made them stand in the positions where the tanks had been.”

“The land matters. This is, in fact, the Jewish homeland. And so when President Trump supported the efforts Ambassador Friedman and I put forward to say that the Golan belongs to Israel, they [the media] said there will be war – or worse. And of course, there was no war. We made the decision about the reality, the rightful reality.”

“And then I had the chance as we closed in on what became the end of our time in the administration to make maybe the most important statement.”

“We made the simple statement that Israel is not an occupying force in Judea and Samaria. This is the rightful homeland for the people of Israel, Judea and Samaria. We recognized that this isn’t an occupying nation, this isn’t an apartheid nation, it is a democracy where faiths can be practiced from all of the Abrahamic traditions.”

“During my first trip here, there were protesters not too far from where we were standing. What they were protesting was a falsehood. What they were protesting is a fantasy. Because we know the reality of this place. We know it is Israel.”

“May the Lord continue to watch over Judea and Samaria and all of Israel.”

Sunday's gathering included the heads of the Yesha Movement and a number of mayors of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

Earlier on Sunday, Pompeo, his wife and their son visited the Shiloh heritage site in Samaria, where the former Secretary of State prayed at the site of the Tabernacle, and was excited to be able to touch archeological findings from the biblical periods of the Judges and the Tabernacle.

Pompeo in Ancient Shilo
Pompeo in Ancient Shilo Courtesy

Afterwards, at the gathering in Psagot, Yisrael Gantz, the chief of the Binyamin Regional Council, lauded Pompeo, saying: "The significance of your statement, Mr. Pompeo, is a practical expression of God’s will, and is therefore our guarantee. We will succeed in deepening our roots here and will be victorious, and that is exactly what we are doing here every day. Your statement, Mike, gave us a lot of strength and is a continuation of the work and the flourishing of the Jewish people here, in Binyamin, Judea and Samaria and the Holy Land."

Yesha Council Director General Yigal Dilmoni spoke on behalf of the heads of the local councils, telling Pompeo: “This land belongs to the Jewish People. Our connection to the land goes very deep. Your political statement on the legality of the Israeli communities here is an expression of the voice of truth and justice, the voice of God to the U.S. administration, and was an important step for the Jewish People.” Dilmoni gave former Secretary of State Pompeo a 3D map of the Land of Israel.