In the first 24 hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would no longer view Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as illegal, both conservative and liberal, as well as Jewish and Christian lawmakers and thought leaders took to social media and the press to praise or condemn the move.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham called the announcement a repudiation of former president Barack Obama and secretary of state John Kerry’s “ill-informed efforts to target Israeli presence in the West Bank.”
“While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time,” Graham said.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz echoed those sentiments, explaining that the announcement reversed the “disgraceful legacy” of the Obama administration and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which it supported.
“That resolution falsely denied Israel’s sovereignty over its territories, including the Jewish Quarter and the Old City of Jerusalem, and called on all UN states to do the same,” Cruz noted. “I have long pushed for policies that demonstrate to the world that the United States considers Resolution 2334 null and void. Today’s announcement is another welcome move discarding that shameful resolution.”
But not all politicians agreed. Progressive lawmakers and Democratic Party presidential hopefuls were quick to criticize President Donald Trump and his administration.
Senator Elizabeth Warren said that if elected, she would reverse the decision.
“Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region,” she tweeted. “Not only do these settlements violate international law – they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two-state solution.”
Likewise, Bernie Sanders tweeted that, “Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”
A spokesperson for Joe Biden, Andrew Bates, released a statement late Monday night reminding the public that the former vice president “is and has always been a strong supporter of Israel.” However, Bates said that Trump’s “decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region. It’s not about peace or security. It is not about being pro-Israel. It is about undercutting Israel’s future in service of Trump’s personal politics.”
The strongest opposition came from freshmen pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Tlaib tweeted that Israeli settlements violate international law and called the president “a lawless king-like dictator.”
Omar tweeted that “Israeli settlements violate intl law, decades of U.S. foreign policy, and the human rights of Palestinians.”
“All who believe in the possibility of peace must speak up in this moment,” she continued. “‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,’” she concluded, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations also released statements, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which said that it “does not take a position on settlements.
“We believe settlements should be an issue for direct negotiations between the parties, not something determined by international bodies,” the organization explained, adding that “The Palestinians must stop their boycott of US and Israeli officials and return to direct talks.”
But the president of the progressive J Street organization, Jeremy Ben-Ami, was not soft-spoken in his criticism of Pompeo’s announcement, accusing the Trump administration of providing “political gifts to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
“Coming at a moment when Prime Minister Netanyahu is struggling desperately for political survival and faces imminent indictment for corruption, the timing of this announcement can only be read as a last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects,” Ben-Ami said.
The Zionist Organization of America’s president Morton Klein and chairman Mark Levenson praised Trump and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman “for this deeply important new statement of US policy, indicating that the notion that it is illegal and a war crime for Israeli Jews – and only Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews – to live in the Jewish biblical, historic and legal heartland of the Jewish people, is untrue and destructive of peace prospects.”
Pastor John Hagee, the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), expressed similar sentiments.
“I want to express my profound appreciation to President Donald Trump for his bold and courageous support of Israel and the Jewish people,” Hagee said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.