Since 1978, the United States has officially seen the Israeli settlements on the West Bank as violations of international law - but no longer. Last night, Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is now behind Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.
According to Anders Persson, Middle East expert at Lund University, the message of the turnaround came unexpectedly.
- One possible interpretation is that this is a way to try to help Benjamin Netanyahu in the ongoing government formation in Israel. Another way of looking at it is that it is about domestic politics, that Pompeo wants to appeal to various voter bases in the US where this issue is very important, he says and continues:
- You can also see it as a consistent line with the Palestinians. We have seen other blows on their faces in recent years. You can also see it as a way of trying to position the US against the EU. Last week, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling that the settlements are illegal. One final point is that Trump continues to dismantle Obama's policies in the region."Important standards offsets"
In 2017, the US recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in 2018 the US embassy was moved there. Thus, the announcement of settlements marks the third time that the Trump administration has put Israel on a sensitive issue for the region.
- These are important norm shifts and it remains to be seen if other countries follow suit. But if you look at the ground in concrete terms, it has not had any major consequences so far, except that the Palestinians are very angry and disappointed, says Anders Persson.
Can the US swing accelerate a peace process?
- It is an interpretation made from the right hand side in the US and Israel. They believe that the status quo that has been in effect for decades has not led to peace and they are right in fact.
See more in the clip above.