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Secretary of State Pompeo Responds to Congressional Critics on Legality of West Bank Settlements (U.S. State Department via Daily Alert)

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Dec. 17, 2019


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday responded to a Congressional letter that criticized the administration’s position on the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
  • “The State Department’s determination did not reverse any policy with regard to Israeli settlements. Rather, the State Department reversed a legal determination by Secretary Kerry…allowing UNSCR 2334, whose foundation was the purported illegality of the settlements…to pass the Security Council on December 23, 2016.”
  • “Secretary Kerry’s determination did not enjoy bipartisan consensus. Rather, it received bipartisan condemnation, including from leading Democrats in both chambers of Congress. Indeed, an overwhelming number of Senators and House Members, on both sides of the aisle, supported resolutions objecting to the passage of UNSCR 2334.”
  • “While you are free to fixate on settlements as a barrier to peace, you are simply wrong in referring to that view as being subject to bipartisan agreement. No less a Democratic spokesman than the Senate Minority Leader publicly stated at his AIPAC address on March 5, 2018, that ‘it’s sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace.'”
  • “You assert that we have ‘blatantly disregarded’ the Fourth Geneva Convention….I commend to you the writings of Eugene Rostow, who left his position as Dean of the Yale Law School to become Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the Johnson Administration….Rostow stated in 1983 that ‘Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank.'”
  • “U.S. policy with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict largely has been consistent for decades and remains so: we support and seek to facilitate direct negotiations between the parties towards the goal of a just and lasting peace agreement.”
  • “Regrettably, as many experts concur, UNSCR 2334 and the related self-justifying remarks by Secretary Kerry have saddled the Trump Administration with a significant handicap in advancing the cause of peace by erroneously injecting into the conflict an incorrect and largely irrelevant legal component. This in turn has led to the hardening of positions, especially on the Palestinian side.”
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