Washington: The United States has effectively backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”
The announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, US time, was a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is struggling to remain in power after two inconclusive Israeli elections this year, and a defeat for the Palestinians.
Pompeo said US statements about the settlements on the West Bank – which Israel captured during a 1967 war – had been inconsistent, saying Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law and Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal.
“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department, drawing criticism from a senior Palestinian figure even before his announcement.
“Another blow to international law, justice & peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said on Twitter ahead of Pompeo’s statement.
The announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.