Mike Pompeo rejects Jordanian assertion that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is main cause of Mideast instability

Mike Pompeo rejects Jordanian assertion that Israeli-Palestinian conflict is main cause of Mideast instability

The United States is open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Jordan, but rejected the Jordanian assertion that the conflict is “the main cause of instability in the region.”

Pompeo, making his first foreign trip since his confirmation last week, met Sunday with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman.

In an appearance with Safadi before reporters, Pompeo called the “partnership” between Jordan and the United States “essential to both countries.”

Pompeo said the United States will support a two-state solution “if the parties agree to it” and will not take a position on borders. He also said the U.S. “continues to support the status quo with regard to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, and as Vice President Pence reaffirmed just in January here in Amman, we are committed to continuing to respect Jordan’s special role as the custodian of those holy sites in Jerusalem. We will continue to work for peace in the great hope of offering the best outcome for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

Speaking to reporters, Safadi called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “the main cause of instability in the region, and its resolution is the key to achieving the lasting and comprehensive peace that we want.”

“The two-state solution remains the only path to that peace, as we believe in Jordan,” he said, “and it is the solution that would allow for the emergence of an independent, sovereign Palestine state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the lines of June 4, 1967.”

Pompeo rejected the characterization, responding that “an important piece of achieving Middle East stability is to resolve this conflict,” but that it is not the only issue.

In response to a question about Israeli soldiers firing on Palestinian protesters on the border with Gaza, Pompeo said: “We do believe the Israelis have the right to defend themselves, and we’re fully supportive of that.”

Pompeo also was asked about U.S. joint airstrikes with British forces against Syria in the wake of chemical attacks on citizens attributed to the Assad government.

“It is the case that the use of chemical weapons is special and unique, and President Trump has made very, very clear that this is intolerable,” he said. “It presents enormous risk to the world if we don’t re-establish a deterrence framework for the use of chemicals in combat.”