U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be a violation of international law, reversing over forty years of policy.
"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 told reporters at the State Department.
Pompeo explained that the current stalemate over the disputed settlements had not helped advance peace between Israel and Palestine. The settlements have been a major sticking point as the two sides have attempted to negotiate a peaceful two-state solution over the years.
"Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn't worked. It hasn't advanced the cause of peace," Pompeo said.
Palestinian officials blasted the announcement and said that it shows a " total disregard for international law."
“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has reversed course on many issues relating to Israel and Palestine. In December 2017, the United States formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the United States Embassy to relocate there from Tel Aviv. In March, Trump moved to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.
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