US support for Israel’s West Bank settlements draws criticisms

Above, the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2019

US support for Israel’s West Bank settlements draws criticisms

  • The UN Human Rights Office reaffirms position Jewish settlements in West Bank ‘in breach of international law’
  • Turkey also said that the US declaration has no validity in international law

DUBAI: US comments effectively abandoning its 40-year old stance that Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank were inconsistent with international law drew widespread condemnation on Tuesday.

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The UN Human Rights Office in particular reaffirmed its long-standing position that Jewish settlements in West Bank “were in breach of international law.”

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit likewise condemned the statements of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who earlier said that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

Aboul Gheit said he considered Pompeo’s statement a negative escalation and warned that the unfortunate change in the US position will push Israeli settlers to practice more violence and brutality against the Palestinian population, state news agency SPA report.

Similarly, Dr. Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, the President of the Arab Parliament, refuted the US official’s announcement, and said the pronouncements were a flagrant violation of international law, UN General Assembly and UN Security Council resolutions, in particular Resolution No. 2334, which specified the illegality of Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied territories since 1967.

Turkey also said that the US declaration that it will no longer regard Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as illegal has no validity in international law.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter that such declarations “shall have no validity with respect to international law.”

“No country is above international law,” he said.

Turkey, a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, also criticized US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

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Trump plan calls for Palestinian state, settlement freeze

Updated 48 min 23 sec ago

Trump plan calls for Palestinian state, settlement freeze

  • The US president will be joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference in Washington scheduled for 5pm GMT

WASHINGTON: US officials said Tuesday President Donald Trump's long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of east Jerusalem, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing a proposal without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a “two-state resolution" to the conflict. The officials said the plan to be unveiled on Tuesday more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object. The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Trump of being biased in favor of Israel as he has adopted policies that bolster Israel at their expense. The plan does call for a four-year freeze in new Israeli settlement construction, during which time details of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump's announcement. However, it was not immediately clear if the freeze could be extended if a final deal is not concluded in the four years. The 50-page political outline goes further in concessions to the Palestinians than many analysts had believed was likely. However, it would require them to accept conditions they have been previously unwilling to consider, such as accepting West Bank settlements. It builds on a 30-page economic plan for the West Bank and Gaza that was unveiled last June and which the Palestinians have also rejected, Under the terms of the “peace vision" that Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working on for nearly three years, the future Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a combination of above-ground roads and tunnels, according to the officials. The officials said that both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political challenger in March elections, Benny Gantz, had signed off on the plan. Netanyahu will be beside Trump as he unveils the plan at the White House. The event comes as Trump's impeachment trial continues in the Se

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah agreed to meet in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss a response to Trump.

The Arab League said it will convene an urgent meeting on Saturday in response to the peace plan.

Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary, said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas would attend to discuss the “so-called Deal of the Century.”

*With Wires