JERUSALEM — As a symbol of the profound friendship and appreciation for the relationship between the two countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with a Bible as they stood overlooking the walls of Jerusalem on Thursday.
"It reminded me of how deep and profound your tie is to the Jewish state," he said. "I gave you a Bible as a gift and I said that the People of the Book have not had a better friend and I mean it. "
Pompeo is an Evangelical Christian who has consistently said "my faith shapes my work" when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people.
This could be the last official meeting between the two officials in a governmental capacity depending on the outcome of the U.S. elections which is being challenged by President Donald Trump's legal team.
While not in the form of a Bible, Pompeo gave two gifts to Netanyahu: He announced that the U.S. would designate as “anti-Semitic” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and that it would from now on consider products exported from settlements in the West Bank as Israeli.
“We will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw U.S. government support for such groups,” he said in a press conference with Netanyahu.
The State Department also released a statement after the visit that the U.S. would label exports from Jewish settlements as "Made in Israel."
“All producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities… will be required to mark goods as ‘Israel,’ ’Product of Israel,’ or ‘Made in Israel’ when exporting to the United States,” Pompeo said.
In another move — widely hailed by Israelis and criticized by Palestinians,— Pompeo visited an Israeli winery in the West Bank on Thursday making him the first top American diplomat to visit an Israeli settlement. Psagot is a boutique winery near the Israeli settlement by the same name in the West Bank. Palestinians protested near the winery along with the Israeli Peace Now movement.
“It is a blessing to be here in Judea and Samaria,” Pompeo wrote in the Psagot visitor’s book. “May I not be the last Secretary of State to visit this beautiful land.”
The vineyard named one of its wines after Pompeo, in honor of all of the pro-Israel decisions made by the Trump administration. Yaakov Berg said that while the red blend is named Pompeo, it's label - #madeinlegality - was just as important.
"I felt like we need to honor him, to thank him, to really show some appreciation," Berg said.
On the way there, Pompeo also stopped at Qasr al-Yahud, revered as the site where Jesus was baptized, which we reported earlier.
Netanyahu was spot on when he said earlier that "the United States of America has no better friend than the State of Israel..." and "Israel has no better friend in the world than the United States of America."
He added his appreciation for "President Trump's maximum pressure campaign" that was put on Iran.
"The tyrants of Tehran deserve no free passes. And for all this and for much more, Israel is grateful to you. I am grateful to you," he said.