Jerusalem: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Israel on Wednesday for sharing information in the global effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic, and again attacked China for its lack of transparency.
US President Donald Trump and his senior officials had a war of words with China, and the new coronavirus appeared in China for the first time. The country stated that it did not inform the world quickly enough about the dangers it poses and confuses the person who issued the alarm. Beijing strongly denies these allegations.
Arriving in Israel on a one-day visit, Pompeo told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “You’re a great partner, you share information – unlike some other countries that try and obfuscate and hide that information – and we’ll talk about that country, too.”
Pompeo did not name China and did not give specific examples of Israeli cooperation in the fight against coronavirus.
Earlier, Pompeo repeated Washington’s charges against Beijing in an interview for the Israel Hayom newspaper.
“Here is what we know for sure. The virus originated in Wuhan, China. The Chinese Communist Party knew about this virus in December of 2019 (and) attempted to obfuscate this.
“They denied people the ability to talk, they didn’t share this information quickly enough, they created enormous risk for the world,” he said.
The United States had previously warned Israel against potential security threats caused by Chinese investment in Israel, prompting the Netanyahu government to set up a committee last October to review such projects.
With a population of 9 million, Israel has reported 16,539 new cases of coronavirus, including 262 deaths. The United States has a population of 328 million, has reported 1.4 million cases, and has more than 83,000 deaths, making it the country with the largest number of people in the world.
Netanyahu said that Israel has discussed part of the measure with the White House, and Israel actively opposed the pandemic and closed the border in mid-March.
Pompeo will then meet with Natanyahu’s political opponent, Benny Gantz, who has become a designated alliance partner. The two are scheduled to be sworn in by the new government on Thursday.
A statement has been proposed on their agenda to declare Israel ’s sovereignty over Jewish settlements and the strategic West Bank of the occupied West Bank, which is the territory of the future country that the Palestinians hope to establish.
The Palestinians are boycotting the Trump administration over its perceived pro-Israel bias, but Pompeo said he would discuss Washington’s peace vision with Netanyahu.
“There remains work yet to do and we need to make progress on that – I’m looking forward to it,” Pompeo said.
With Palestinian leaders warning that a de-facto Israeli annexation move could imperil the already limited cooperation between the sides, there has been a spike in West Bank violence.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that on Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in a raid near Hebron in the West Bank.
The Israeli military said that after the Palestinians threw stones and bombs at the arrests, the soldiers opened fire and one soldier was slightly injured.
A day ago, a Palestinian stone thrower killed an Israeli soldier who participated in a raid near Jenin.