Sec. Pompeo Announces Softening Of US Position On Israeli Settlements [VIDEO]

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Sec. Mike Pompeo addresses reporters on Monday November 11, 2019 (Source: Screenshot)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.

Pompeo’s announcement repudiates a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” The move will likely anger Palestinians and put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.

The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing U.S. opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, according to a draft of Pompeo’s remarks on the policy obtained by The Associated Press.

“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo says in the draft. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”

Soon after Pompeo’s announcement, PM Netanyahu reacted in a video message, describing today as a “historical day.”

U.S. administration moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the movement of the U.S. Embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties in Israel’s Knesset, wrote on Twitter that the change in policy won’t “change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land upon which an independent Palestinian state will be founded alongside Israel.”

Even though the decision is largely symbolic, it could also give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections.

In addition, it could spell further trouble for the administration’s oft-promised peace plan, which is unlikely to gather much international support by endorsing a position contrary to the global consensus.

The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such.

Israeli Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich, a West Bank settler and head of a pro-settler party, wrote on Twitter that the anticipated announcement is “an appropriate response to the hypocritical decision by the European court last week.”

The 1978 legal opinion on settlements is known as the Hansell Memorandum. It had been the basis for more than 40 years of carefully worded U.S. opposition to settlement construction that had varied in its tone and strength depending on the president’s position.

The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory.

In the final days of the Obama administration, the U.S. allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Pompeo was expected to say that the U.S. would not take a position on the legality of specific settlements and that that the new policy would not extend beyond the West Bank and create a precedent for other territorial disputes.

He also planned to say that the decision did not mean the administration was prejudging the status of the West Bank in any eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

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 big Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Friedman was a major fundraiser for the settlements before becoming ambassador.

It may be taken by Netanyahu and the settlement movement as a green light for additional construction, or even annexation, of lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.

The anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, along with AP reporting, has found a sharp increase in settlement planning and construction since Trump took office.

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.

Unable to secure a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu is now anxiously waiting to see if his chief rival, Benny Gantz, can put together a coalition. If Gantz fails, the country could be forced into a third election with Netanyahu facing the distraction of a trial.

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory.

Today, some 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the two areas, which are both claimed by the Palestinians for their state.

After the war, it immediately annexed east Jerusalem, home to the holy city’s most important religious sites, in a move that is not internationally recognized.

But Israel has never annexed the West Bank, even as it has dotted the territory with scores of settlements and tiny settlement outposts.

While claiming the fate of the settlements is a subject for negotiations, it has steadily expanded them. Some major settlements have over 30,000 residents, resembling small cities and serving as suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians and most of the world say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians.

Israel’s settlement activities have also drawn attention to its treatment of Palestinians.

While Jewish settlers can freely enter Israel and vote in Israeli elections, West Bank Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, require permits to enter Israel and do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Mr yingele

    Do you understand what better for Israel means ? It’s policy and how much we kick the Muslims where it counts . It’s not just yeah we gave Israel a few more weapon toys

    • Nebach. So if the USA will take over part of Mexico, El Salvador etc where some americans live and give them Citizenship and all the goodies from welfare, food stamps etc like Israel does to the arabs in Jerusalem, Haifa etc that is GOOD for America? Hardworking Israeli taxpaying citizens will not go for this. It might be fun to play in Flatbush/5town with Israelis hard earned money (like taking care of our confused boys we messed up in Flatbush etc) its onother story to take care 2 of million new arabs. Sending them to arab states is a Dead idea as Rabbi Kahane find it out. (They couldnt even get a single seat in Knesset, he was murdered later.)

      • who spoke about giving palestinains citizenship. As you know they are second class. No citzens and no money form us till they behave like humans. You sound like Pualin now. Yes if you don’t like it call it apartehid. I say build and don;t care about the Palestinians. Keep those animals locked in cages.

        Key point, trump is doing alot anf not turning his back on Bibi like you say.

  2. This is great for Ganz not for the State of Israel and for sure not for the Orthodox. with 2.2 million new arab votes (Ganz/Lapid/arab s coalition is getting much much stronger in seats.They might form a Govt in 2 days with 4 extra votes. It will be 25 extra votes . Oh I forgot maybe you think the Supreme Court of Israel will not give any rights to the arabas (I doubt this) The UN will declare it Apartheid and in a year Bernie/AOC will not likely to vote it down. PUTIN will be happy He voted against Israel ever single time in the UN but never been able to convince the USA to do so. Now he gets his wishes delivered by Trumps actions.

    • Typical deranged leftist moron, Trump does something pro Israel and you condemn him for it, you would rather he condemned Israel at every turn, force them to negotiate with Hamas, and give money to Israel’s enemies like the previous administration did because can’t was being pro Israel.

    • where the heck do you get your stupidity that it means they will become citzens? get it thru your haed. the palsetinains will not get citizenship. We build and they stay locked in cages. Who says we need to grant them citzen?

      • Please get some EDUCATION. The Palestinian living in Israel (Jerusalem) do vote. Get it.? Where are you hiding? How many times did Bibi scared us that the Palis going to vote in droves.? Install cameras in Pali voting places? Please read again my post or go on any israeli site to understand what is going on. As we speak (or type) Bibi lost the vote and could not form a Govt., Ganz is negotiating with the Arabs for a joint Jewish/Arab govt in the State of israel. Festeist? They will get much stronger if they anex the West Bank.

        • No you dummy . Palestinians in Israel Do not vote . Only Israeli Arabs with citizenship who live in certain areas . Most cannot vote . That’s a fact . If we annex land the Palestinians will not be able to vote

          Stop mixing up bodem and klutz . Israeli Arabs can vote . Palestinians cannot vote including many in area b under Israel control

      • “Locked in Cages” Dream on. They are the 3rd Largest Party in Israels Parlament and currenty negotiating to be coalition partners in next govt. Larger than Agudah or the Sefardim who might not even be in the next Israeli govt. If they will annex Hebron etc. they likely will be the largest Party in Israel. Have a good night. Sluf gezinther height. Dream well and when you wake up check the israeli news and your arab friends might have formed already a govt together with israeli Jews who dont think like you.

      • “The first PM of Palestine” Omen. Orthodox and Satmar won. We are getting along with arabs for many many centuries. No reason why we cant share the land and govern together. In fact the Chassidim and the arabs have a lot in common. Big Families, Tzniusdig clothing,etc. We are even allowed to share Tefilos. We cant even walk in a Catholic Church but we are allowed to daven in a musk.

  3. “cant was being pro Israel” means that when Obama did good for Israel this deplorable’ s called him antisemitic for helping Israel or other Jews. There is no need to go over just how much Obama did. 27 Billion US $ (More than Nixon,Reagan combined) Patriots missiles and the most advanced weaponry turns into “A few EDUCATED weapon TOYS” and Deplorable “can’t was being pro Israel” whatever that means to some unedutaed deplorables who like to “toy” with Israels future.

    • Stop lying, no one ever condemned Obama for any of his pro Israel moves (well except for the anti Israel leftists) it was when he continually publically condemned Israel for announcing the building of houses or for trying to force Bibi to have another building freeze after Abbas ignored the first 9 months of the first one, or whenever Israel was attacked he right away came out saying both sides need to show restraint, or when he went to Cairo and compared holocaust survivors to be Arabs leaving their homes anticipating their return to a Judenrein palestine, or when he stopped missile transfers during the 2014 Gaza war, or when kerry went to hamas sponsor qatar to get a ceasefire deal and try to force Israel to accept hamas terms, or when he tried to make iran a regional power with his idiotic iran deal giving them access to 150 billion dollars to use to fund the murder of Jews in Israel, or when on his way out the door he effectively voted against Israel in the UN which effectively calling the Kosel Arab territory. Of course you think all that was being pro Israel being that you are deranged.

      • So many lies and distortions. I urge everyone to do a little fact checking of these accusations, starting with the one about Obama’s speech in Cairo.

        I remember hearing it and I believe it is still available on line.

        He spoke about wanting a new relationship with the Arab world but added “BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL”.

        His Egyptian hosts were very offended that he would say that on his first visit to an Arab country and the Arab press had a melt down.

        Amazing what one can find on line today if one cares to snopes around a little bit.

        The truth shall set you free.

        • Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
          Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed — more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
          On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. (Applause.)
          For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.”

  4. So kissing up to Erdogan, letting Russia dominate Syria, driving the formerly pro-U.S. Kurds into Assad’s arms, not confronting Russia about Iran’s free reign in Syria is when someone is pro-Israel but doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    • yes letting Russia dominate Syria is pro israel. the other choice is ISIL. Israel would prefer Assad any day. he a bad enemy but an enemy we can kick around. The better of the two. Smartest move ever was to reinstate Assad.

      Re Erdogean, thats not Ian Israel issue

    • Obama said Erdogan was his top 5 world leader, Obama invited Russia into Syria when he backed off his red line, Obama never helped the Syria opposition when it wasn’t infiltrated by Isis, Obama wrote off Isis or as he called it Isil so it would include Israeli territory as teh JV team noyhing to worry about, giving rise to their caliphite. Trump wiped out Isis and took out their leaders. Trump has been the most pro Israel president ever.

    • Yes it changes a lot . The Muslim Arab Palestinians have to be told in no uncertain terms that game is up . No more terror and no more excuses . We played their game long enough . You see this whole settlement thing is game and farce . It’s an excuse to kill us . Even the failing nyt justifies our murder via its fake news story telling justifying it by calling it occupyatuon . The Palestinians need to know the Arafat games are over .

      • the truth is that Reagan did something similar. and then the next president/congress changes it all back. after trump, who says it won’t revert back? so it’s not much other than a poke in the arabs’ eyes

  5. North Vietnam, invaded and occupied South Vietnam, in violation of international law; it relocated a percentage of its population to South Vietnam, when it took over the entire country, in 1975. The UN has been silent about that matter for over 44 years. What is its explanation?

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