US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to pay a short visit to Israel on May 13, ending a pause in his international travels due to coronavirus. He will meet both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, an old friend, and Benny Gantz, the new “alternative prime minister,” on the day that the pair take office as joint heads of a unity national government. The visit is clearly a gesture of US support. The first high-ranking foreign official to visit Israel since the outbreak of coronavirus will, like his hosts, will first be tested for the virus, wear masked and curb friendly gestures.
Pompeo is widely expected to talk about reactivating US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, Iran’s “malign actions” in the region and cooperation in fighting the covid-19 pandemic. While doing so, he will undoubtedly take a first, curious look at the new Israel lineup, say DEBKAfile’s sources, and report back to the White House on his impressions. For the first time in years, a Netanyahu-led cabinet will not be composed exclusively of right wing and religious ministers; some like Gantz, are centrists or left-of-center like certain members of his party and a couple of Labor members.