Israeli Settlements At West Bank Not In Violation Of International Law, Says US
Reversing its four-decade-old stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Trump administration declared that the Israeli settlements at the West Bank are not in violation of any international law. The decision was taken as a way to bring about a peace settlement in the region.
The announcement was made by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which has come at a crucial time for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the two elections that took place this year, Netanyahu has promised the country that he will push further to annex the West Bank and make it their own.
In a press conference, Pompeo had first talked about the history of American policy calling these settlements illegal and inconsistent with international law but it was only in President Ronald Reagan’s time in 1981 when the inconsistency was questioned and it was stated that the settlements were not violating the law.
“Calling the establishments inconsistent with international law has not worked. It has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict and arguments about who is right or wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” The New York Times quoted Pompeo as saying.
He was also of the opinion that this decision will provide greater space for a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Hours after the announcement, the State Department issued an alert on Twitter to tourists traveling in West Bank and Gaza, also warning those who oppose the declaration made by the Secretary of State.
#Jerusalem: We advise US citizens considering travel to Jerusalem, #WestBank, or #Gaza to maintain vigilance light of the current environment. Those opposed to the Secretary of State’s announcement may target US govt facilities, interests, and citizens. https://t.co/VusNGoqgDp pic.twitter.com/MhS02wntPN
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) November 18, 2019
The statement has brought about mixed reactions from both of the concerned parties.
While the decision being in the Israeli interest can be an assumption, Pompeo has denied it is connected to the politics in the country. “ We conducted our review, and this was the appropriate time to move forward,” he said.
The Israeli counterparts are hailing this decision. Netanyahu called it a reflection of the ‘historical truth’, and his political opponent Benny Gantz also welcomed the decision but stated that peace should only be determined by agreements that meet the security requirements.
Palestinians are upset with the sudden reversal of policies. Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, called this a replacement of international law with “law of the jungle”. “We cannot express the horror and shock because this is a pattern, but this does not make it any less horrific,” the veteran Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hanan Ashrawi, said.
This reversal of policy is a part of the ongoing recognition of Israeli settlements and interests that Trump initiated in the past. Earlier, he had signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli interests in Golan Heights. He had also recognized Jerusalem as the capital and had asked the American Embassy to shift from Tel Aviv.