US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the Trump administration is taking another bold step by reversing the Obama administration’s policy on Israeli settlements.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo explained.
Israel’s settlements in the so-called West Bank – which is actually the biblical region of Judea and Samaria – are really full-sized towns and small cities, some with tens of thousands of residents.
President Obama argued the settlements were illegal under international law, so his policy at the UN and in Washington was to prevent new construction. In 2009, he said the “settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.”
But Pompeo says that simply hasn’t been successful. “Calling the establishing of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked. It hasn’t advanced the cause of peace,” he insisted.
Israelis were elated at the news and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision, calling it a historic day for Israel.
“After President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and recognized our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, now the American administration put an end to the lie that settlements are illegal. I thank President Trump and I thank Secretary of State Pompeo,” said a grateful Netanyahu.
The Palestinian Authority called it a total departure from solving the conflict by peaceful means. “They are replacing international law with the law of the jungle,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Since 1978, the US State Department has considered the settlements to be in violation of international law, and in January 2017, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution declaring all of Judea and Samaria occupied territory.
On the CBN News Channel program Faith Nation, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the US is responding to UN bias against Israel.
“They continually try and isolate and discriminate against Israel and we here in the United States will not stand for the policy,” she said.