Trump Administration Reverses Long-Held US View that Israeli Settlements Violate International Law
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the US was reversing 41 years of legal opinion by no longer considering Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be violations of international law. Pompeo said that the conflict was political and that viewing it as a judicial matter has not brought peace. The move follows earlier decisions by the Trump Administration, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, close the PLO mission in Washington, cut aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, that have accepted long-held Israeli positions and drawn heavy criticism among Palestinians and in the broader Arab world. Some 450,000 Israelis live in more than 100 West Bank settlements and another 215,000 in about a dozen neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The settlements, built on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war – land previously occupied by Jordan and claimed by Palestinians for a future state of their own – are widely considered to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. In the wake of Pompeo’s announcement, the US Embassy in Jerusalem issued a travel warning for Americans visiting the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.