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US Declares West Bank Settlements ‘Not Illegal’

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19 Nov 2019 (All day)
US Declares West Bank Settlements ‘Not Illegal’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a dramatic announcement at a press briefing Monday afternoon, saying that the Trump Administration has reviewed the legal arguments regarding Israeli settlement communities in the West Bank and does not view them as illegal under international law. Reactions to the announcement were swift, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying “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. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”

“I am pleased that the effort has concluded and that the secretary’s conclusions have been published,” US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Friedman told the Jerusalem Post. “I believe that they will bring truth and clarity to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and advances the cause of peace.”

Speaking for many on the Right of Israel’s political spectrum, Foreign Minister Isreal Katz (Likud) said, “The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is indisputable. I would like to thank the Trump administration's consistent and steadfast support for Israel and its commitment to furthering peoples' relations and to creating a Middle East of prosperity and stability.”

Blue and White party head Benny Gantz also praised the announcement, saying it demonstrated Washington’s “firm adherence to Israel and its commitment to security and the future of the entire Middle East." He added that "The fate of the communities and residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by arrangements that meet security requirements and can promote peace. [These should be] arrangements that will serve both sides, and will also reflect the facts on the ground."

Joint List Party head MK Ayman Odeh voiced his disagreement, declaring that "no foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land on which a sovereign Palestinian state will be established by Israel's side." Another MK, Tamar Zandberg of the Democratic Union faction said that next "the United States will also announce that the sun rises in the west.”

Other voices, including the leadership of the settler communities and some Rightist MKs, called for Israel to immediately announce its application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority denounced the decision with PA Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh summing up the PA’s position by declaring that the new US position was “void, unacceptable and condemned” as it “totally contradicts international law and resolutions that reject settlements.”

"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334," added EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. "The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power. The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties."

Here is the video of Pompeo's statement