Pompeo Shifts US Settlement Stance, Says Calling Them Illegal Won’t Bring Peace
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Pompeo Shifts US Settlement Stance, Says Calling Them Illegal Won’t Bring Peace

Palestinians fume over move as settler leaders, right-wing Israeli celebrate.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the prime minister's Sukkah, during talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 18, 2019. At left is US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via TOI)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits the prime minister's Sukkah, during talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 18, 2019. At left is US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via TOI)

This is a developing story.

Pompeo says settlement policy change ‘increases likelihood’ of peace resolution

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the decision to repudiate a legal opinion saying West Bank settlements are not inconsistent with international law has not harmed prospects of a two-state solution .

“We recognized the reality on the ground. We provided a space for Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate. We have increased the likelihood” of a political solution, he contends.

“We have provided the very space for Israel and the Palestinians to come together. What we did here was conduct a legal analysis,” Pompeo says and adds that it was not intended to send a message approving further settlements. “It was intended to be a legal review.”

He adds that the policy change was not driven by domestic political concerns and that he is not concerned the move will isolate Washington on the matter.

“We have encouraged nations to stand up for the State of Israel, so I don’t think the decision increases the isolation,” Pompeo says.

Netanyahu says US settlement policy change ‘rights a historical wrong’

Prime Minister Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails the US announcement on its policy change toward West Bank settlements.

“Today, the United States adopted an important policy that rights a historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law,” his office says in a statement.

“This policy reflects a historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea,” the Prime Minister’s Office adds. “The Trump administration policy is also correct in stating that those who have categorically denied any legal basis for the settlements not only deny truth, history and the reality on the ground, they also set back the cause of peace, which can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties.

“Israel’s legal system, which has proven itself fully capable of addressing legal questions related to the settlements, is the appropriate place for these matters to be adjudicated — not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts. Israel remains ready and willing to conduct peace negotiations with the Palestinians regarding all final status issues in an effort to achieve a durable peace but will continue to reject all arguments regarding the illegality of the settlements.

“Israel is deeply grateful to President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and the entire US administration for their steadfast position supporting truth and justice, and calls upon all responsible countries who hope to advance peace to adopt a similar position.”

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