While all and sundry are angry at Israel and its announcement on construction in Jerusalem and environs, all feigning surprise, Secretary of State John Kerry let us know he and the Pals. knew in advance:
The announcements with respect to settlements were to some degree expected because we have known that there was going to be a continuation of some building in certain places, and I think the Palestinians understand that. I think one of the announcements or maybe one of them was outside of that level of expectation, and that’s being discussed right now.
For sure, he also said
As you know, or as the world I hope knows, the United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate.
As David Gerstman noted to me: That''s unqualified. He didn''t make exceptions for "settlements" in areas that Israel is expected to hold in any final peace deal. He didn''t say "unhelpful" but "illegitimate."
That fits with this Administration''s tradition. As Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson at the State Department, pronounced on August 12, 2013
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”
"Legitimate" has been, indeed, the Obama Administration buzzword from Day One, well from June 2009:
The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. (Applause.) This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. (Applause.) - REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT: ON A NEW BEGINNING, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009
But Menachem Begin pre-replied that.
At that press conference of Ms. Harf, the AP''s Matthew Lee swung in, as is his wont, and on more than one occasion and twirled her about:
QUESTION: -- on the long-stated position we do not accept the legitimacy of settlements, does that – is that a synonym for saying that you believe that settlement activity is illegal?MS. HARF: I’m going to state our position exactly as I said it. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.QUESTION: Okay. The word --MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse it for you.QUESTION: Does – you don’t --MS. HARF: Period.QUESTION: You don’t know?MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse it for you.QUESTION: You don’t know the definition of the word “legitimacy”?MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse it for you, Matt.
So, it''s not a question of legality.