Pompeo becomes first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Golan Heights, calls the area "a central part of Israel"

by Laura Mize · Nov 19th, 2020 4:03 pm

Last Updated Nov 20th, 2020 at 6:57 am

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first person in his role to visit the Golan Heights area of Israel and also the first to visit an Israeli settlement in the middle eastern nation's West Bank.

The Golan Heights lies along the Israel-Syria border. Israel captured the area during the Six-Day War in 1967, and has held it ever since. Ownership of the Golan Heights is a controversial international matter, with many nations and international groups insisting that Israel occupies the region unlawfully.

In 2019, President Trump's administration officially acknowledged Israel's ownership of the land. Both Israel and the United States say it rightfully belongs to Israel, because the Israeli military captured it during a defensive war and because it is integral to Israeli national security.

"This is a part of Israel, a central part of Israel," Pompeo said during a statement Thursday.

The West Bank settlement he visited is called Psagot. While in the area, Pompeo visited a winery that previously had named a wine after him. The owner of the winery named the wine following release of a U.S. State Department guideline that products made in that area of the West Bank should be labeled "Made in Israel."

Upon arriving at the winery Thursday, Pompeo received bottles of his namesake wine. He also received lunch and a tour of the vineyard.


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