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Pompeo (L) and Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Photo: Jim Young/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to visit the Golan Heights and an Israeli settlement in the West Bank next week, both firsts for a U.S. secretary of state.

Why it matters: Since 1967, all previous U.S. administrations have treated the West Bank and Golan Heights as occupied territory.

The big picture: The trip seems intended to highlight the Trump administration's policy shifts on Israel. For Pompeo, it also has domestic political significance ahead of a possible presidential run in 2024.

  • Pompeo has repeatedly highlighted his close links to Israel, including by addressing the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem.
  • He was also the first secretary of state to make an official visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

How we got here: Last November, Pompeo annulled a State Department legal opinion from 1978 which deemed Israeli settlements in the West Bank “inconsistent with international law." He and U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman were the driving forces behind that shift.

  • Pompeo's announcement came a week after the EU high court had ruled that all EU member states must place a special label on goods originating from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
  • That ruling came in response to an appeal by the owner of a winery in the Psagot settlement.
  • After Pompeo’s announcement, the owner of the winery named a new series of wine after Pompeo and sent him a case of wine bottles.

Pompeo is planning to visit that same winery next week. It's unclear whether it will be designated as an official visit or a private visit, or whether any Israeli officials will accompany him.

  • The U.S. embassy in Israel and the Israel's Shin Bet security agency have been preparing for the unprecedented trip.
  • A spokesperson said the State Department had nothing to add about the trip at this time.

Pompeo is also planning to visit the Golan Heights.

  • In March 2019, in a gesture that came days before an Israeli election, President Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the region.
  • The Israeli government then established a new village named the “Trump Heights," though construction has yet to start 18 months later.
  • It's unclear whether Pompeo will visit the site of the new village.

What to watch: Pompeo will arrive in Israel next Wednesday. He's expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials, most likely including Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabbi Ashkenazi and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

  • Pompeo will arrive in Israel with his wife and they are expected to make a private visit at Qasr Al-Yahud — a Christian baptism sight in the Jordan River near Jericho in the West Bank.

Worth noting: The Falic family, owners of Duty Free America, are major investors in the winery Pompeo will visit. They're also Republican donors and have organized events Pompeo has attended as secretary of state.

  • Pompeo attended a dinner in Iowa sponsored by Simon Falic in July, according to author Joel Rosenberg, who wrote on his blog that Falic “encouraged Pompeo and the administration to help Israel make more of the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria part of the current state."

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden turns the page on Trump's Israel-Palestine policies

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: David Furst/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration laid out its Israel-Palestine policy at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of repairing ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Driving the news: According to the new policies, the U.S. will resume aid to the Palestinians and reopen the PLO office in Washington and the consulate in Jerusalem.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.