Palestinians have strongly condemned the Trump administration after it announced the United States would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank “inconsistent” with international law.
“The State of Palestine condemns the strongest terms the US administration’s lawless position on Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied territory of the State of Palestine, as announced by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said in a statement on Tuesday.
Pompeo on Monday said that after legal consultation Washington had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law”, saying he trusted the Israeli courts to decide.
Aside from Palestinians, the US announcement, the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration favouring Israel, drew immediate criticism from rights groups, Arab world, some US allies and politicians worldwide.
The UN and EU made clear that they continue to view Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal. The Arab League called the US move an “extremely adverse development.”
Accusing the current US Administration of legitimising the Israeli colonial settler agenda, Malki said the announcement “risks the demise of the international order and threatens to plunge the world into chaos and violence.”
He warned that the consequences of the decision goes far beyond the Palestinian issue.
The statement puts the United States at odds with virtually all countries, determinations of the International Court of Justice and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
According to several UNSC resolutions, the most recent in 2016, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.
“Washington cannot and will not rewrite international law,” the minister said in a statement after the US announcement, adding that the State of Palestine would not stop pursuing justice and redress for the Palestinian people.
“The Palestinian leadership will continue to take all measures possible to honor its moral and political responsibility towards our people, and defend their national rights including their natural right to a life of dignity, freedom and prosperity,” Malki added.
He called on the international community to defend the internationally agreed-on framework for peace by protecting the two-state solution by recognising the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and by strongly rejecting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.