Trump administration no longer regards West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as illegal under international law


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement this afternoon that the Trump administration no longer regards West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as illegal under international law, thereby repudiating global opinion and 50 years of U.S. policy, was widely condemned, including by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Here are some of the reactions from twitter, chiefly in the States.

Bernie Sanders says Trump is wrong, and playing to his extremist base.

Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.
Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law—they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two state solution.

The Times of Israel reports that Europe is not swayed: “EU rejects @SecPompeo’s statement on settlements, says its position on settlements 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.”

The Committee on American-Islamic Relations said Trump has a political motivation, and the two-state solution is dead.

“It is obvious that Donald Trump’s panic over his looming impeachment is motivating him to try to solidify the most extreme parts of his political base,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad… [I]f this is America’s position going forward, “the two-state solution is officially dead, and Donald Trump dealt the death blow.”

Former negotiator and ambassador Martin Indyk sees the influence of US ambassador David Friedman, a backer of settlements, in the concession:

A totally gratuitous move by a discredited ⁦@SecPompeo⁩. Why slap the Palestinians in the face again? Why boost the settlement/annexation movement at the very moment that Gantz is trying to form a government? This has Friedman’s fingerprints on it.

Matt Lee of the Associated Press points to Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife Miriam have given over $100 million to Republican causes and gotten the Embassy move, among other concessions, in return.

The shift is a victory for Netanyahu, a longtime booster of the settlements, and had been strongly supported by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and major Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Friedman was a major fundraiser for the settlements before becoming ambassador…

Lee was among many who said that the move was aimed at helping Benjamin Netanyahu hold on to power in Israel, despite his inability to form a government after two elections.

For Netanyahu, the welcome boost comes at a time when he has been weakened domestically by mounting legal woes and two inconclusive elections this year.

Ali Abunimah sees an honest abandonment of the U.S. pretense that it was ever a fair dealer.

US announcement that Israeli settlements don’t violate international law is merely a shedding of the fiction that the US has ever opposed Israel’s land-theft colonies. It changes nothing but makes clear to all that the US and Israel are partners in crime

Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch says Pompeo is deluded. 

Pompeo’s fictional statement changes nothing. Trump can’t wipe away with this announcement decades of established international law that Israel’s settlements are a war crime. Trump doesn’t read but we do. Read: Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

AIPAC refuses to criticize the decision, saying it takes no position on settlements (which it has protected for decades).

J Street’s director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, sees an emergency in Pompeo’s statement. It shatters U.S.’s credibility and gives Israel a pass to build more settlements. Ben-Ami urged Congress to affirm the two-state solution now

With their actions and rhetoric, the president and his advisers have given the Israeli government carte blanche to expand settlements, entrench occupation and move toward formal annexation of the West Bank. By discarding decades of bipartisan US policy and flagrantly disregarding international law, they are trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

The International Court of Justice and the United Nations have made clear the judgment of the world that Israel’s settlement enterprise is illegal under international law. This administration’s attempt to unilaterally erase those judgments only further shatters America’s limited remaining credibility in the region and around the world.

Ben-Ami also cited the Netanyahu angle.

Coming at a moment when Prime Minister Netanyahu is struggling desperately for political survival and faces imminent indictment for corruption, the timing of this announcement can only be read as a last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects.

Jim Zogby of the Arab American Institute says the announcement only shows the criminality of the Trump administration.

Guess what guys? You don’t get to decide what violates international law. And if you aid and abet a violation, you become complicit. So you’re law-breakers. Nothing new there!

Lara Friedman of FMEP shows that Reagan policy, cited by Pompeo as precedent, was condemnatory of settlements. Debra Shushan of Peace Now says of Reagan policy, “We should be so lucky.” David Rothkopf sees it as a play to evangelicals.

Code Pink: “His statement condones #IsraeliCrimes and shows a blatant disregard for Palestinian rights.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition applauds the statement. Treating the settlements as illegal had “ostracized” Israel. The U.S. brings “fresh thinking” to the conflict and is recognizing “facts on the ground.” Matt Brooks of RJC writes of Trump, “You are the MOST PRO ISRAEL PRESIDENT in history.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham is pro. “While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump Administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time.”

Of course Israeli leaders are very happy about the announcement, even Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s rival. Lahav Harkov of the Jerusalem Post observes:

The vast majority of the Knesset is in favor of Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer considers settlements illegal. Party leaders representing 96/120 MKs are in favor. (Which just shows how little of the Knesset could really be considered left-wing these days.)

The State Department promptly issued a warning to Americans traveling in occupied territories that they could be the target of reprisals by Palestinians. “Individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests, and U.S. citizens.”


Source: Mondoweiss.


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