The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make a brief visit to Israel on Wednesday at a time when Israel is laying the groundwork to unilaterally annex large parts of the West Bank.

The State Department on Friday confirmed Pompeo's travel plan, which had been widely reported earlier this week in the Israeli news media. 

Pompeo will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz, who are expected to form a coalition government, to discuss joint efforts to fight the covid-19 pandemic and regional security issues related to Iran, according to a statement Friday from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

The meetings also are expected to focus on Israel's annexation plans. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told an Israeli interviewer last week that the Trump administration is prepared to recognize the country's application of sovereignty over the West Bank "within weeks." 

Pompeo announced last year that the United States had determined that Israel's West Bank settlements do not violate international law.

David Schenker, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, declined to say how much time would be spent discussing Israel's annexation plans or the work of a joint U.S.-Israeli "mapping committee" sketching out borders.

Pompeo is unlikely to talk to Palestinian officials, who severed contacts with Trump administration after the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced the approval of a plan to build 7,000 housing units in the town of Efrat, which could triple the town's population.

It was unclear why Pompeo decided to visit Israel now, since the State Department has elevated the entire world to a Level 4 "Do Not Travel" warning but is hoping to lift at least some locales in the near future.