Israel’s prime minister traveled to the West Bank on Tuesday to celebrate the US’ announcement that it does not consider Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be a violation of international law.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, where he told settler leaders he was very moved by the announcement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.
Here we are on a historic day with another tremendous achievement for the State of Israel, which we have greatly worked for, he told them, according to a statement released by his spokesman.
The Trump administration has corrected a historic injustice and lined up with truth and justice.
Pompeo said that after legal consultation Washington had concluded the establishment of settlements was not, per se, inconsistent with international law.
He said that the US was not necessarily considering the settlements legal either but instead would defer to the judgment of Israeli courts. The majority of settlers live in settlements the courts have judged legal.
The decision is the latest in a series of pro-Israeli moves by Donald Trump’s administration, including recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump has also drawn international criticism for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.
It puts Washington at odds with virtually the whole of the rest of the international community and breaks with UN Security Council resolutions declaring the settlements to be illegal as they are built on occupied land.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, alongside more than three million Palestinians.
The Fourth Geneva Convention on the laws of war explicitly forbids moving civilians into occupied territories.
The Palestinian Authority decried the US policy shift as completely against international law.
The Arab League criticized Pompeo’s announcement, calling it an extremely adverse development.
And the European Union reiterated that it considers all settlement activity illegal under international law.
Source: Palestine Chronicle