Rep. Levin to Pompeo: Settlement policy shift 'simply distorts history'

Rep. Andy Levin responded on Monday to a letter from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the legal status of Israeli settlements.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington in March. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington in March.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan responded on Monday to a letter from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying that the Secretary’s letter rejecting criticism of his announcement calling Israeli settlements legal under international law “simply distorts history.”
“My colleagues and I continue to stand on the side of truth and peace,” Levin added.

Pompeo's
letter also took aim at another letter sent by 107 members of the House Democratic caucus regarding the illegality of settlements in the West Bank, calling the criticism foolish, while also adding that former President Obama and former Secretary Kerry were the ones who changed the longstanding US position towards the settlements.
“I am deeply saddened by Secretary Pompeo’s response to 106 of my colleagues and me regarding the Trump Administration’s policy on Israeli settlements,” Rep. Levin said in a post he shared on Twitter. “This response ignores decades of history – most importantly, that bipartisan administrations have repeatedly pointed to settlements as a barrier to peace,” he added.
Levin also went on to quote former secretaries of state James Baker and Colin Powell, who objected to settlement activity.
“What I find most troubling, though, is not the Administration’s distortion of the facts, but the failure to recognize the damage that last month’s decision portends for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“It is my sincere hope that the Trump Administration will act to protect the safety and rights of Israelis and Palestinians and reconsider their dangerous settlement policy,” he concluded.
Pompeo wrote on Monday to Levin to express strong disagreement with the House Democratic caucus letter. Pompeo also referred to Levin’s argument – first, that the Secretary’s announcement contradicts decades of bipartisan US policy, and second, that such an announcement “blatantly disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
“While I appreciate your interest in this important issue, I couldn’t disagree with those two foolish positions,” Pompeo wrote in his answer to Levin, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post.
“The State Department’s determination did not reverse any policy with regard to Israeli settlements,” he added. “Rather, the State Department reversed a legal determination by Secretary Kerry made during the waning days of the Obama Administration, that the establishment of settlements was categorically inconsistent with international law.”
“That determination was made in a failed attempt to justify the Obama Administration’s betrayal of Israel in allowing UNSCR 2334 – whose foundation was the purported illegality of the settlements and which referred to them as ‘a flagrant violation of international law – to pass the Security Council on December 23, 2016,’” Pompeo said, in an apparent attack on the previous administration.