This goes a step further than Pompeo’s statement in November that the US “no longer recognize Israeli settlements as per se inconsistent with international law.”
By LAHAV HARKOV
The US rejects a 1978 memo determining that Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday in a video statement to the Kohelet Policy Forum’s conference on his settlement policy.Pompeo said the US is “disavowing the deeply flawed” Carter-era memorandum, written by then-State Department legal adviser Herbert Hansell, which called all Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines illegal.This goes a step further than Pompeo’s statement in November that the US concluded that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”“It’s important to speak the truth that the facts lead us to, and that is what we have done,” Pompeo said in his video message. “We are recognizing that settlements do not inherently violate international law.”As such, he added, the US is returning to a more “balanced and sober” policy, “advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”Speaking at the conference, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said of the legality of settlements that “the name Judea says it all. It is the biblical heartland of Israel.”“You don’t need a PhD or a law degree to know who has a good claim to this land,” he said. “The answer, with all due respect to the scholars, is just obvious. Because it’s so obvious, because the right of Israel to settle in Judea and Samaria is so obvious, the goalposts started to move.”AdvertisementThe goalposts were moved so far out of place, they weren’t even on the field, Friedman quipped.He said the “Pompeo Doctrine doesn’t resolve the conflict over Judea and Samaria, but it does finally move the goalposts back onto the field.”This does not contradict the Palestinians’ right to “live in dignity, peace, independence, pride and opportunity,” Friedman said. “But the Pompeo Doctrine says Jews have the right to live in Judea and Samaria.”Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of the Kohelet Forum said: “For decades, the obscure Carter-era memo was used as justification for anti-Israel policies... Secretary Pompeo’s statement makes clear the US’s wholesale rejection of the legal theory that holds that international law restricts Israeli Jews from moving into areas from which Jordan had ethnically cleansed them in 1949.”J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams said in a statement, “While the Trump administration continues its outrageous effort to legitimize the settlement movement and green-light Israeli annexation of the West Bank, Israeli leaders must understand that the extreme ‘Pompeo Doctrine’ does not represent the views of Congress or the long-term positions of the United States."“While Pompeo and Friedman do all they can to promote the agenda of the Israeli far-right," the statement continued, "their actions are only imperiling the long-term security of Israel, trampling on Palestinian rights and undermining the shared democratic values at the heart of the US-Israel relationship."
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