The European Union says it continues to believe that Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law and reduces the chances of lasting peace, in response to Washington's support for Tel Aviv in building settlements.
"The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity in light of its obligations as an occupying power," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Monday.
Mogherini's remarks came after the United States effectively backed Israel's right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, abandoning its four-decade-old stance that the settlements were "contrary to international law."
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country no longer considers Israeli settlements "inconsistent with international law."
The statement puts the United States in contradiction with the vast majority of countries and UN Security Council resolutions.
|US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country no longer considers Israeli settlements “inconsistent with international law” (French)|
"Having carefully studied all aspects of the legal debate, this administration agrees that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank does not in itself contravene international law," Pompeo said.
Until now, US policy has relied, at least in theory, on a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the establishment of settlements in the Palestinian territories contravenes international law.
The Fourth Geneva Convention on the Laws of War considers the establishment of settlements as contrary to all international principles.
Commenting on the US position, Senator Sanders said that the Israeli settlements are illegal, adding: "Once again, Trump isolates Washington to please his extremist base."
For its part, the Palestinian Authority condemned Washington's position, as spokesman for the Palestinian presidency Nabil Abu Rdainah considered the US declaration invalid and rejected and condemned and totally contrary to international law and resolutions of international legitimacy rejecting the settlement.
Abu Rudeina blamed the US administration for any repercussions of this dangerous position, adding that Washington is not qualified or authorized to cancel the resolutions of international legitimacy.
Israel praised the US decision, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was "correcting a historic mistake", calling on other countries to take a similar position.