Pompeo visits Israel museum honoring Christian Zionists

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) arrives for a tour of the Friends of Zion Museum on November 20, 2020, in Jerusalem. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 20 November 2020

Pompeo visits Israel museum honoring Christian Zionists

  • Christian Zionism is a belief by some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 were in accordance with biblical prophecy

JERUSALEM: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up a trip to Israel on Friday with a visit to a museum in Jerusalem that honors Christian Zionists and was founded by a prominent evangelical adviser to the Trump administration.
The museum visit came a day after Pompeo became the first secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. He also announced a new policy allowing settlement products exported to the US to be labeled “made in Israel” and a new initiative to combat the Palestinian-led international boycott movement.
Christian Zionism is a belief by some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 were in accordance with biblical prophecy. The Friends of Zion Museum was founded by Mike Evans, a prominent evangelical supporter of Israel. Evangelical Christians are among President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters and have hailed his unprecedented support for Israel. They would also be an important constituency should Pompeo pursue elected office following Trump’s presidency.
Pompeo did not deliver any public remarks at the museum, and was expected to depart later Friday.
The Trump administration has broken with decades of US policy to support Israel’s claims to territory seized in war and to isolate and weaken the Palestinians.
It moved the US Embassy to contested Jerusalem, adopted the position that settlements are not contrary to international law, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights — which Pompeo also visited on Thursday — and released a Mideast plan that overwhelmingly favored Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians. It has also adopted a “maximum pressure” campaign against Israel’s archenemy Iran while brokering normalization agreements with Arab nations.
The moves Pompeo announced Thursday are largely symbolic and could be easily reversed by President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. But it was a powerful show of support for Israel and its Christian allies.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. The Palestinians view the settlements as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace, a position shared by most of the international community.
Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the same war and later annexed it. Last year, the US became the first country to recognize it as part of Israel, a position Pompeo reaffirmed during his visit to the strategic plateau on Thursday.
Biden is opposed to settlement construction and has vowed to adopt a more evenhanded approach aimed at reviving peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.


Iran says British-Australian academic freed for 3 Iranians

Updated 22 min 45 sec ago

Iran says British-Australian academic freed for 3 Iranians

  • It was not immediately clear when Moore-Gilbert would arrive back in Australia
  • Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her

TEHRAN: Iran has freed Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic who has been detained in Iran for more than two years, in exchange for three Iranians held abroad, state TV reported Wednesday.
The state TV report offered no further details Wednesday beyond saying that the three Iranians released in the swap had been detained for trying to bypass sanctions.
Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018 and sentenced to 10 years. She is one of several Westerners held in Iran on internationally criticized espionage charges that their families and rights groups say are unfounded.
It was not immediately clear when Moore-Gilbert would arrive back in Australia. State TV aired video showing her with a gray hijab sitting at what appeared to be a greeting room at one of Tehran’s airports. She wore a blue face mask under her chin. The footage showed three men with Iranian flags over their shoulders — those freed in exchange for her being released. State TV earlier described them as “economic activists,” without elaborating.
International pressure on Iran to secure her release has escalated in recent months following reports that her health was deteriorating during long stretches of solitary confinement and that she had been transferred to the notorious Qarchak Prison, east of Tehran.
Moore-Gilbert has gone on hunger strikes and pleaded for the Australian government to do more to free her. Those pleas included writing to the prime minister that she had been subjected to “grievous violations” of her rights, including psychological torture and solitary confinement.
Her detention has further strained relations between Iran and the West, which reached a fever pitch earlier this year following the American killing of a top Iranian general in Baghdad and retaliatory Iranian strikes on a US military base.