Mike Pompeo however stressed that the U.S. ‘’is not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.’’ ‘’This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate. International law does not compel a particular outcome, nor create any legal obstacle to a negotiated resolution.’’
WASHINGTON—”The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,’’ said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as he announced that the Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements.
In remarks to the press in Washington Monday afternoon, Pompeo said: ‘’U.S. public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades. In 1978, the Carter administration categorically concluded that Israel’s establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn’t believe that the settlements were inherently illegal.
Subsequent administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn’t advance peace. However, in December 2016, at the very end of the previous administration, Secretary Kerry changed decades of this careful, bipartisan approach by publicly reaffirming the supposed illegality of settlements.
After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.’’
Pompeo however stressed that the U.S. ‘’is not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank.’’ ‘’This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate. International law does not compel a particular outcome, nor create any legal obstacle to a negotiated resolution.’’
‘’The United States encourages the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in any final status negotiations.
And further, we encourage both sides to find a solution that promotes, protects the security and welfare of Palestinians and Israelis alike,’’ he added.
Pompeo’s announcement marks the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel. In 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and, in 2018, the US formally opened an embassy in the city.
Last March, President Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan Heights.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Pompeo’s statement by saying: ‘’Today, the United States adopted an important policy that rights a historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law.”
“This policy reflects an historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” he said. ‘’In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea,” he added.
He said that ‘’Israel’s legal system, which has proven itself fully capable of addressing legal questions related to the settlements, is the appropriate place for these matters to be adjudicated – not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.’’
The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC) applauded the U.S. Administration ‘’for showing the moral clarity and having the courage to speak the basic truth, in recognising that communities in Judea & Samaria (West Bank) are not illegal.’’
‘’We believe that recognition of this self-evident fact reflects the historical truth that the Jewish people have an undeniable and inextricable connection to this land, and that it is only by accepting this reality, that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can be established,’’ said IJC President Vladimir Sloutsker.
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein and Chairman Mark Levenson, said, “We strongly praise President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Friedman for this deeply important new statement of US policy indicating that the notion that it is illegal and a war crime for Israeli Jews –– and only Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews –– to live in the Jewish biblical, historic and legal heartland of the Jewish people is untrue and destructive of peace prospects.’’