USA changes stance on Israeli settlements - no longer 'inconsistent with global law'


But "as a mayor, I am more concerned that the country is going to collapse because there has been no functioning government for so long", he said. "Trump can't wipe away with this announcement decades of established worldwide law that Israel's settlements are a war crime". Since then, Republican and Democratic Presidents have referred to settlements as "illegitimate" but declined to call them illegal-a designation that would make them subject to worldwide sanctions.

Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted, "These settlements are a clear violation of global law and push us further away from a two-state solution". From now on, the legality of individual settlements would be a matter for the Israeli courts to decide.

The foreign minister reaffirmed the need for urgent and effective worldwide action to safeguard what remains of peace prospects on the basis of the two-state solution, before Israeli violations and illegal measures make it "impossible".

"We continue to follow the long-standing position of the United Nations that Israeli settlements are in breach of worldwide law", United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

It is a reversal of the 1978 State Department legal opinion, known as the Hansell Memorandum, that such neighborhoods are "inconsistent with worldwide law".

"Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with global law has not advanced the cause of peace", Pompeo argued.

Trump, whose evangelical Christian base is staunchly pro-Israel, has taken a number of landmark steps including recognizing Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital and cutting off aid to the United Nations agency that provides schooling to Palestinian refugees.

The Fourth Geneva Convention on the laws of war explicitly forbids moving civilians into occupied territories.

The United States said its stance could prompt violence, warning Americans in the region to exercise greater vigilance because those opposing the move "may target" USA government facilities, private interests and citizens. Shorn of ways to effectively resist Trump's attacks, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is left seeking support overseas.

Now, however, given the USA support to Netanyahu's right-wing policies, doubts run high as to whether the United States administration will be able to mediate between the rival parties, bringing them to the negotiating table. But under Trump, analysts and global observers concur that the United States has moved from a relatively balanced position to a boldly pro-Israel one. The announcement is a victory for Israel's right wing establishment, which has seen waning support with incumbent leader Benjamin Netanyahu unable to form government after two deadlocked elections this year.

The U.S. announcement "is unsafe to worldwide security and peace", Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Executive Committee, told a press conference in Ramallah.

He told reporters at the State Department that the Israeli courts should resolve any legal questions on the settlements.

Global law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal. He now has the green light to proceed with this plan. "This is not a success for the State of Israel, it is a strategic danger". "But calling the settlements illegal and freezing building there did not promote peace either".

While Jewish settlers can freely enter Israel and vote in Israeli elections, West Bank Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, require permits to enter Israel and do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections.

It said, "This policy reflects an historical truth - that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria". At one time, America's Jewish community as well would have overwhelmingly supported these moves.

Also this year, the USA recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israeli officials have cited as a possible justification for annexing the West Bank.

The announcement was widely welcomed in Israel, which is between governments. Gantz called it "an important decision, which points once more to the [U.S. administration's] firm stance by Israel and commitment to the security and future of the entire Middle East".

"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.

"The US already removed itself from playing a constructive role in the peace process let alone in reaching the ultimate deal", Halperin said. It's hard to imagine any of the other 2016 presidential hopefuls braving the massive internal opposition such a decision would provoke. It also includes smaller settlements closer to the Jordan River that Israelis might give up if the Palestinians ever became serious about making peace. "Once the Trump administration decides to undermine worldwide law. this constitutes a major threat to global peace and security".