United States no longer believes Israeli settlements are illegal: Mike Pompeo

Colleagues say Muath Amarneh was hit by Israeli forces during a demonstration on Friday near Hebron

Colleagues say Muath Amarneh was hit by Israeli forces during a demonstration on Friday near Hebron

"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under global law", said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He added: "Somebody needed to say a simple truth, and President Trump did this, just as he did with the recognition of the Golan Heights and the moving of the United States embassy to Jerusalem".

"Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with global law has not advanced the cause of peace", Pompeo said. Here's what to know.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the United States had reversed a Carter administration-era State Department legal opinion calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank "inconsistent with global law".

According to several United Nations Security Council resolutions, the most recent in 2016, Israeli settlements are illegal under worldwide law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies. USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted that the announcement "will advance the cause of peace by creating an appropriate level playing field for future talks".

Swiss confirm position on Israeli settlementsNov 19, 2019 - 14:55The Swiss foreign ministry says it continues to consider Israel's settlements in the occupied territories as illegal and an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The Trump administration has also cut funding for the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA), which works to support Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

How does this differ from the past policy?

They have always been a source of dispute between Israel and the worldwide community, and the Palestinians, who swiftly condemned the move.

"We expect a (US) veto but we will do it. Let the United States veto global law".

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"After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan", Pompeo said.

"It is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible".

"Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks tweeted, "@realDonaldTrump THANK YOU for your decision to reverse USA policy regarding #Israel settlements.

What could the new announcement mean for Israeli-Palestinian relations?

Palestinians have reacted sharply to the U.S. policy reversal on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The EU has already issued a statement condemning the U.S. move and sticking to its original policy that considers all settlements in the West Bank illegal.

The announcement was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday but the European Union said its position remained unchanged within an hour of Pompeo's statement.

It was only in late December 2016, after President Trump won the presidential election and weeks before Inauguration Day that the Obama administration supported a U.N. Security Council resolution declaring settlements a violation of worldwide law.

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The PA under its leader Mahmoud Abbas has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

That is the demand of Israel's national religious right, a core constituency of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which sees the West Bank as part of a historic Jewish homeland.

Nimrod Novik, a former foreign policy adviser to the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres, said in effect that Israel needs to be protected from its friends. Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

Despite Trump's support, Netanyahu still faces monumental challenges.

"Individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State's recent announcement may target USA government facilities, US private interests, and USA citizens. Why boost the settlement/annexation movement at the very moment that Gantz is trying to form a government?" he asked.

Although the decision is largely symbolic, the announcement marked the third major instance in which the Trump administration has sided with Israel and against stances taken by the Palestinians and Arab states even before unveiling its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

"Entrenching the occupation and its injustice, and violating the resolutions of worldwide legitimacy will not achieve peace, and will not guarantee security and stability", said Ayman Safadi, Jordan's Foreign Affairs Minister.

"Pompeo couldn't be more wrong", Wise said. More ambiguously, Gantz added that the fate of the settlements "should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace".

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It has always been a mistake for the United States to treat disputed territories in the West Bank as occupied.

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