US Softens Position on West Bank Settlements

  • Pompeo has changed American policy toward Israel settlements in preparation for presenting his peace initiative.
  • The new policy is that only through applying pressure on the Palestinians Liberation Organization can a peace deal be worked out.
  • The move by the Trump Administration could be an effort to boost the popularity of Netanyahu who is facing indictment.

Secretary of State Pompeo announced on Monday that the US is softening its position on West Bank Settlements in the occupied West Bank. Pompeo said the US repudiates a 1978 State Department legal opinion that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are inconsistent with international law. This move by America has already angered Jordan and will anger other nations in the Middle East and Europe. Already the declaration of President Trump giving recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and supporting Israel annexation of the Golan has had an effect on relations between Israel and its neighbors.

Israel settlement in the West Bank.

The reason for America changing its policy toward settlements is that the old policy of considering these settlements inconsistent with international law has not helped to promote peace. America is for sure putting pressure on Palestinians through these measures and through the closing of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington. The new policy is that only through applying pressure on the Palestinians Liberation Organization can a peace deal be worked out.

Palestine President Mahmood Abbas condemned Pompeo’s announcement and said the settlements are illegal under International law. “The US has lost its credibility to negotiate in the future peace process,” Abbas said.

The move by the Trump Administration could be an effort to boost the popularity of Netanyahu who is facing indictment. The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements last week when the European Court of Justice ruled that products produced in Israeli settlement must be marked as such.  The international community overwhelmingly holds that Israel settlements are illegal. Their opinion is based on the Hansel Memorandum of 1978.  Building in the settlements has always been carefully observed by US and other nations placing restrictions on expansion of Israel in occupied territories.

Ivanka Trump at the inauguration of the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

In the final days of the Obama administration the US allowed the UN to pass a resolution declaring that the settlements were a flagrant violation of international law. The decision of Pompeo was not connected to any specific settlements in the West Bank. In the West Bank there are various Israel population blocs some larger than others, and settlements more spread out than others.

Pompeo said that it will be up to negotiations between the Arabs and Israel to decide how to divide the land.  Netanyahu released a statement about the change of American policies toward the West Bank saying “that this action rights a historical wrong considering settlements illegal. Israel legal system which has proved to be fully capable of addressing legal questions related to the settlements, is the appropriate place for these matters to be adjudicated– not based on international forums what pay no attention to history or fact.”

The final word on whether Israel will make a government will be on Wednesday afternoon. If they are not able to make the government– whether it be a narrow government with Blue-White or a unified government with Blue-White and Likud– there will be new elections.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites. www.progressivejewishspirituality.net
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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