The US government no longer sees Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank as a violation of international law. This was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. According to him, the construction of settlements in the West Bank is "not per se incompatible with international law". It did not advance the peace process in the Middle East to declare the settlements illegal.
Pompeo thus announced an important turnaround in US Middle East policy. So far, at least theoretically, Washington's US Department of State expertise has been authoritative, according to which the establishment of Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories is a breach of international law.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the current official US revaluation of the settlements and praised it as a correction of a "historic wrong decision". This policy reflects historical truth, "a statement in Netanyahu's office said that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria (West Bank)." In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea, "he said Premier.
"International community must act"
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six-Day War. The United Nations classifies the areas as occupied and invoke international law. There are now more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 200 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians are demanding territories for their own state - with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Accordingly, the reaction of the Palestinian leadership failed. "Israeli settlements are stealing Palestinian land, seizing and exploiting Palestinian natural resources," said Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Erekat referred to international law, which clearly defines the illegality of Israeli settlements. He called on the international community to act against "irresponsible US behavior."
In fact, in December 2016, the UN Security Council called on Israel to stop all settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. Settlements were designated in resolution 2334 as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
Campaigning for Netanyahu?
However, the government of US President Donald Trump now again stands by the side of the Israelis. Previously, the US had already recognized the Israeli claim to the occupied Golan Heights and Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocated the US embassy there.
Benjamin Netanyahu is considered a close ally of Trump and should use the course correction in Washington as domestic policy. Thus, after two parliamentary elections this year, the head of government continues to struggle for the formation of a new coalition government. On Wednesday, such a deadline expires again - this time for Netanyahu's opponent Benny Gantz and his center alliance blue and white. If Gantz also fails, it could result in the third choice within a year.