Claims that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement that Israeli settlements are not, per se, inconsistent with international law has killed the two-state solution, as Crispin Hull argued on these pages last month, misrepresent both history and current day realities.
There was absolutely nothing revolutionary in Pompeo’s statement.
All US administrations since the Carter administration have said settlements are a political and not a legal issue, as Pompeo argued.
The US position has long been to consider the West Bank and Gaza as disputed territories – with Israel having as valid a claim to them as anybody, but their status needing to be settled via negotiations. Settlement building has been regarded as generally unhelpful to the prospects for peace.
Pompeo explained the announcement was a course correction back to that consensus – after the Obama administration, in its final month in office, damaged this bipartisan view when it declined to veto an extreme UN Security Council resolution that called any Jewish presence in the West Bank illegal. This resolution effectively declared Jews have no right to live or pray even in Jerusalem’s Old City – which they have done for 3000 years.
Hull’s ahistorical argument reflects his controversial belief that “the two-state solution has only ever been a cruel hoax and delaying tactic”.
Yet the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) own chief negotiator Saeb Erekat disagrees.
Erekat said: “The only way towards achieving peace in Palestine, Israel, and the entire Middle East is with the freedom and independence of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.”