Foreign Policy

Trump administration reverses U.S. position on Israeli settlements: ‘Not against international law’

The Trump administration on Monday reversed a four-decade-old U.S. government position by claiming that Jewish settlements built on the occupied West Bank are not “inconsistent with international law.”

The administration’s reversal was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and was immediately cast by supporters and critics alike as a victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is clinging to power following a pair of inconclusive Israeli elections.



The reversal is also seen as a defeat for Palestinians.

Pompeo, speaking at the State Department, said that U.S. statements about the West Bank settlements, which Israel captured in the Six Day War in 1967 after being attacked by Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, were inconsistent.

He said that Democrat President Jimmy Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law while his successor, Republican President Ronald Reagan, said in 1981 that he did not find them inherently illegal.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo told reporters.

The reversal is the third major U.S. policy shift toward Israel under Trump and against positions taken by Palestinians and Arab states.



In 2017, as he promised on the campaign trail, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The following year, the U.S. formally opened an embassy in that city.

U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama had all promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital and move the U.S. embassy there, but did not.

Previously, U.S. policy had been that the status of Jerusalem was to be decided by parties to the disagreement, though several proposals over the years offered by the U.S., Israel, and allies have all been rejected by the Palestinians.

In March, the president recognized Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, a boost for Netanyahu but one which drew sharp criticism from Syria, which once claimed the strategic land used to stage invasions of Israel.

1 Comment

  1. As God composes all these last day events, I am amazed how His plans will not be frustrated by man. “The zeal of the LORD will accomplish it. The next phase of the reconciliation of the Jews will be the pressure for them to make a covenant with the antichrist, because of Satan’s system throughout the world against them; the antichrist will give them three and a half years of peace allowing them to return to temple worship (which becomes idolatry); then the antichrist’s abomination of desolation in the temple, the breaking of the covenant; the tribulation which will almost annihilate Israel; and finally Jesus, the king of kings and Lord of lords, returning with His heavenly army to defeat the antichrist and the whole worlds rebel armies, with the fire of His word; and the Jews will once again be restored and reconciled to God (ushering in the “Kingdom Age” and the end the age of the Gentile’s dispensation).

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