A major shift has occurred in American policy towards settlement activity in Israel. On Monday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US is returning to the Reagan-era view regarding the legality of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per say, inconsistent with international law.”
In 2016 the UN passed resolution 2334 that stated “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory… had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.” While the US abstained from the resolution vote, then Secretary of State John Kerry voiced his support of it. Pompeo’s statement reflect a direct reversal in America’s approach to the region.
Pompeo went on to state that the Israeli courts ultimately hold the decisions on the legality of the settlements, and that the US is not expressing their opinion on which settlements should or should not be legal. He also focused on the fact that this administration feels that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have to work out their own problems. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Trump administration appears to support a hands-off yet facilitative approach to reaching peace in the region; allowing the two countries who are actually having the conflict work it out themselves instead of having multiple other countries tell them what should be done.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Blue& White head Benny Gantz were quick to praise President Trump for his decision. Meanwhile PLO leader Dr. Manan Ashrawi had strong words for the US officials, “Another blow to international law, justice & peace by a Biblical absolutist waiting for the ‘rapture.'” She tweeted out.