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Trump’s reversal of US policy on settlements is widely condemned, including by Sanders and Warren

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement this afternoon that the Trump administration no longer regards West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as illegal under international law, thereby repudiating global opinion and 50 years of U.S. policy, was widely condemned, including by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Here are some of the reactions from twitter, chiefly in the States.

Bernie Sanders says Trump is wrong, and playing to his extremist base.

Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.
Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law—they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two state solution.

The Times of Israel reports that Europe is not swayed: “EU rejects @SecPompeo’s statement on settlements, says its position on settlements is “clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

The Committee on American-Islamic Relations said Trump has a political motivation, and the two-state solution is dead.

“It is obvious that Donald Trump’s panic over his looming impeachment is motivating him to try to solidify the most extreme parts of his political base,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad… [I]f this is America’s position going forward, “the two-state solution is officially dead, and Donald Trump dealt the death blow.”

Former negotiator and ambassador Martin Indyk sees the influence of US ambassador David Friedman, a backer of settlements, in the concession:

A totally gratuitous move by a discredited ⁦@SecPompeo⁩. Why slap the Palestinians in the face again? Why boost the settlement/annexation movement at the very moment that Gantz is trying to form a government? This has Friedman’s fingerprints on it.

Matt Lee of the Associated Press points to Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife Miriam have given over $100 million to Republican causes and gotten the Embassy move, among other concessions, in return.

The shift is a victory for Netanyahu, a longtime booster of the settlements, and had been strongly supported by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and major Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Friedman was a major fundraiser for the settlements before becoming ambassador…

Lee was among many who said that the move was aimed at helping Benjamin Netanyahu hold on to power in Israel, despite his inability to form a government after two elections.

For Netanyahu, the welcome boost comes at a time when he has been weakened domestically by mounting legal woes and two inconclusive elections this year.

Ali Abunimah sees an honest abandonment of the U.S. pretense that it was ever a fair dealer.

US announcement that Israeli settlements don’t violate international law is merely a shedding of the fiction that the US has ever opposed Israel’s land-theft colonies. It changes nothing but makes clear to all that the US and Israel are partners in crime

Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch says Pompeo is deluded. 

Pompeo’s fictional statement changes nothing. Trump can’t wipe away with this announcement decades of established international law that Israel’s settlements are a war crime. Trump doesn’t read but we do. Read: Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

AIPAC refuses to criticize the decision, saying it takes no position on settlements (which it has protected for decades).

J Street’s director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, sees an emergency in Pompeo’s statement. It shatters U.S.’s credibility and gives Israel a pass to build more settlements. Ben-Ami urged Congress to affirm the two-state solution now

With their actions and rhetoric, the president and his advisers have given the Israeli government carte blanche to expand settlements, entrench occupation and move toward formal annexation of the West Bank. By discarding decades of bipartisan US policy and flagrantly disregarding international law, they are trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

The International Court of Justice and the United Nations have made clear the judgment of the world that Israel’s settlement enterprise is illegal under international law. This administration’s attempt to unilaterally erase those judgments only further shatters America’s limited remaining credibility in the region and around the world.

Ben-Ami also cited the Netanyahu angle.

Coming at a moment when Prime Minister Netanyahu is struggling desperately for political survival and faces imminent indictment for corruption, the timing of this announcement can only be read as a last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects.

Jim Zogby of the Arab American Institute says the announcement only shows the criminality of the Trump administration.

Guess what guys? You don’t get to decide what violates international law. And if you aid and abet a violation, you become complicit. So you’re law-breakers. Nothing new there!

Lara Friedman of FMEP shows that Reagan policy, cited by Pompeo as precedent, was condemnatory of settlements. Debra Shushan of Peace Now says of Reagan policy, “We should be so lucky.” David Rothkopf sees it as a play to evangelicals.

Code Pink: “His statement condones #IsraeliCrimes and shows a blatant disregard for Palestinian rights.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition applauds the statement. Treating the settlements as illegal had “ostracized” Israel. The U.S. brings “fresh thinking” to the conflict and is recognizing “facts on the ground.” Matt Brooks of RJC writes of Trump, “You are the MOST PRO ISRAEL PRESIDENT in history.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham is pro. “While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump Administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time.”

Of course Israeli leaders are very happy about the announcement, even Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s rival. Lahav Harkov of the Jerusalem Post observes:

The vast majority of the Knesset is in favor of Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer considers settlements illegal. Party leaders representing 96/120 MKs are in favor. (Which just shows how little of the Knesset could really be considered left-wing these days.)

The State Department promptly issued a warning to Americans traveling in occupied territories that they could be the target of reprisals by Palestinians. “Individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests, and U.S. citizens.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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21 Responses

  1. annie on November 18, 2019, 6:02 pm

    what a coincidence! the day before netanyahu is supposed to be indicted.

  2. Donald on November 18, 2019, 7:20 pm

    Slightly off topic, but Ken Roth ( like a great many other Western liberal imperialists) supports the racist coup in Bolivia, so while it is nice that he mumbles the right thing here, nobody should care.

    • echinococcus on November 18, 2019, 11:04 pm

      It’s not off topic at all, Donald.

      But then “nobody should care” is, I submit, the wrong way to look at it.

      We should be amplifying and publicizing it, saying that even imperialist propaganda b$7ʁd$ as degenerate and prostituted as Roth cannot hold against public pressure any longer and have to start acknowledging certain things, even Roth!

    • Keith on November 19, 2019, 12:23 am

      DONALD- “Slightly off topic, but Ken Roth ( like a great many other Western liberal imperialists) supports the racist coup in Bolivia….”

      Human Rights Watch is an imperial NGO, with close ties to the Deep State and the Democratic Party.

  3. Boomer on November 19, 2019, 8:43 am

    Thanks for the review of reactions. As some have pointed out, in practice, this simply recognizes what has been U.S. policy for many years. As far as I recall, the last U.S. president who actually tried to do something to impede settlements was the first President Bush. That did not work out well. Still, this is a deplorable, unnecessary change, though hardly surprising. The U.S. is complicit in many other things around the world, of course, but that doesn’t excuse our support for the expulsion and oppression of the Palestinians. .

  4. Misterioso on November 19, 2019, 10:00 am

    News Flash!!
    Not included in Secretary of State Pompeo’s declaration quoted above that the “Trump administration no longer regards West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements as illegal under international law,” is his assertion, approved and ordered by Trump, that ‘the moon is made of cheese, the earth is flat and Australia belongs to the Canadian Inuit!!’

    • amigo on November 19, 2019, 1:39 pm

      Breaking News !!!.

      Donald Trump has declared himself as the Leader of Planet Earth and in that capacity he reserves the right to change international borders and create new Nations or demolish Sovereign ones as he sees fit.He also stated that the Un no longer has his recognition .

      More breaking News!!!.

      The new leader of the world has presented his plan to resolve the conflict between the newly structered State of of Israel and the Palestinians .

      Trump has enacted a new law stating .”There are no Palestinians “.
      Trump stated he was simply stating the obvious as did Golda Meir decades ago.

      Problem solved.

  5. Misterioso on November 19, 2019, 10:20 am

    http://www.dci.plo.ps/en/article/14022/Dr-Ashrawi-Trump-administration-is-a-threat-to-international-peace-and-security

    The Palestine Liberation Organization – Press release, Nov. 18/19:

    Dr. Ashrawi: “Trump administration is a threat to international peace and security.”

    “The announcement made by US Secretary of State has no legal validity. The US neither has the right nor agency to rewrite international law and deface the rules-based international order based on its perverse ideological leanings.

    “Israeli settlements are a grave violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. They also constitute a war crime according to the Rome Statute. These are solid facts that the Trump administration cannot alter or unravel.

    “This announcement reaffirms Palestine’s assessment that the Trump administration is a threat to international peace and security because it is a partner in Israeli crimes and provides political cover for its pervasive violations.

    “This administration is a threat the international community must confront with consistency and moral clarity.

    “The Palestinian leadership will continue to pursue justice and redress through all available legal and political avenues. Palestine remains solidly committed to international law and at the forefront of defending the values and principles for which it stands. It is time for responsible states to take collective action that rises to the level of threat this administration’s lawlessness presents to the world.”

  6. James Canning on November 19, 2019, 11:04 am

    Dangerous arrogance on the part of Pompeo and Trump. Foolish, and dangerous. The illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights are illegal under international law, and will remain illegal under international law. Trump and Pompeo are positioning the US as a rogue state. Idiocy, in my view.

    • Misterioso on November 19, 2019, 11:59 am

      @James Canning

      Well said!!

    • Misterioso on November 19, 2019, 12:20 pm

      https://www.juancole.com/2019/11/fascist-pompeo-palestinian.html

      “Fascists R Us: Trump/ Pompeo’s Denial that Israeli Squatting on Palestinian Land is Illegal” by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, Nov. 19/2019

      “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the US no longer considers Israeli squatter settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal.

      “A combination of US Evangelical lawlessness and white supremacy with incessant lobbying by the Zionist far right has finally put the United States in the position of supporting the policies of the Axis in World War II.

      “That is the historical meaning of Pompeo’s position.

      “In 1940, Italy’s Mussolini (the idol of Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House chief strategist) grabbed Nice from France. Mussolini intended to permanently annex this territory, and had designs on the port city of Marseilles, as well.

      “Do you think that is right, that Mussolini could just march into France and gobble up part of it? What kind of world would it be if Mussolinis were constantly stealing other people’s territory?

      “When Mussolini was defeated (and shot to death by a leftist partisan in 1945), the non-Fascist countries created the United Nations and enacted the Geneva Conventions to try to stop Mussolini-like behavior in the future.

      “The United Nations Charter forbids any country to acquire the territory of others by military force. It is illegal for Italy to march into France and just take Nice for itself.

      “Mussolini’s imperialism did not stop at the shores of the Mediterranean. In 1911 Italy had launched a war of aggression on Libya and made it a colony. But it wasn’t enough to rule the lives of Libyans with a fascist iron fist and to steal their resources. Beginning in 1938 and continuing into WW II, Mussolini began sending Italians in to Occupied Libya.

      Wikipedia notes,
      ”A project initiated by Libya’s governor, Italo Balbo, brought the first 20,000 settlers — the ‘Ventimila’ – to Libya in a single convoy in October 1938. More settlers followed in 1939, and by 1940 there were approximately 110,000 Italians in Libya, constituting about 12 percent of the total population.[8]

      “Plans envisioned an Italian colony of 500,000 settlers by the 1960s: so, the Italians would be 2/3 of the population in coastal Libya by then. Libya’s best land was allocated to the settlers to be brought under productive cultivation, primarily in olive groves.”

      “After World War II, not only was aggressively annexing your neighbor’s land made illegal but so too was flooding your own population into an Occupied territory to deprive locals of the fruits of their own resources and grab them for the metropole.

      “The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 governs the treatment of populations in Occupied territories during wartime, and it forbids transplanting people from the Occupying Power’s population into the subjected region. Remember, the United Nations Charter envisages that at the cessation of hostilities, the Occupier would have to give back the territory. It cannot be annexed.

      “The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of populations in occupied territories contains these prohibitions:
      Art. 31 Prohibition of coercion
      Art. 32 Prohibition of corporal punishment, torture, etc.
      Art. 33 Individual responsibility, collective penalties, pillage, reprisals
      Art. 34 Hostages

      “Israel is in extensive violation of all of these provisions.

      “Article 49, Fourth Geneva Convention, says, ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies.’

      “So here’s the thing. There isn’t any difference in this regard between the Israeli government and Mussolini. Just as Mussolini invaded and annexed Nice and Corsica, the Israelis invaded Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, at a time when the civilian Palestinian population was not militarized and not directly involved in the Egyptian-Jordanian-Syrian war with Israel. Israel has annexed large tracts of the Palestinian West Bank.

      “And it has flooded some 600,000 squatters into Palestine (not to mention all the squatters around Jerusalem on annexed territory), just as Mussolini sent all those Italians into Libya. This is just naked aggression and colonialism.

      “Israelis like to take the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan for British Mandate Palestine as their charter of legitimacy, even though the UNGA does not have any legal authority to decide such things. But even so, that plan did not award the West Bank and Gaza to Israel, and that denial was implicit in the 1949 Armistice among the belligerents.

      “Given that the whole creation of the international-law category of war crimes with the Geneva Conventions was in part intended to ensure that never again could the Jewish people be genocided, it is a supreme and ugly irony that no one has done more to undermine and destroy international law concerning occupied populations than the State of Israel.

      “So what Pompeo said is that the French who lost their lives fighting Mussolini’s invasion were on the wrong side of history, and that the United States now ex post facto regrets George W. Patton’s assault on Italy and US backing for Libyan independence.

      “The official policy of the United States is now that it is all right to annex neighbors’ land and to settle it with your own squatters. Pompeo has become Mussolini, in the same way that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu long since had.

      “Ezra Pound began his Pisan Canto LXXIV lamenting the death of ‘Ben’ Mussolini, hung by his heels. The US military wanted to execute him for his active support of Italian Fascism. In turn, it was the aggressive militarism and severe human rights abuses of the fascist Italian state that provoked that animus.

      “I know what Gen. Patton and Gen. Omar Bradley and Gen. Ike Eisenhower thought of Mussolini. I know what they would think of Pompeo running up the white flag of surrender to Fascist policy.

      “We have met the Fascists and they are us.”

      • James Canning on November 19, 2019, 3:51 pm

        Pompeo, and of course Trump, indeed are fostering war crimes by Israel, with no regard to the damage this idiocy is doing to the national security interests of the American people.

  7. Vera Gottlieb on November 19, 2019, 12:20 pm

    Any person with a tad of decency would condemn this.

    • Mooser on November 19, 2019, 1:16 pm

      Maybe Trump reversed policy on the settlements in the hope that pressure would be applied to Lt. Col. Vindman to withdraw his testimony?

      • echinococcus on November 19, 2019, 3:01 pm

        Mooser,

        Your continual nonsense starts feeling like having a shitfly in the room. Do you really, really believe this is not about Your Party’s Obama-Administration VP using US Empire blackmail to keep unearned oodles of bribe money flowing, and boasting of it? Repeat, every time you continue buzzing nonsense we’ll repeat it.

      • Mooser on November 19, 2019, 6:05 pm

        “Your Party’s Obama-Administration VP using US Empire blackmail to keep unearned oodles of bribe money flowing, and boasting of it?”

        I’m sure Gym Jordan or Ratcliffe will bring that out and expose Vindman, his “daul loyalties”, and the Obama blackmail scheme.
        No doubt George Soros is at the heart of it, too.

      • echinococcus on November 19, 2019, 8:51 pm

        Only true believers would pay any attention to that comedy, the lawyers, the committees, the General Windbag, the other arcane names, and the theater for the unwashed — but the latter stopped watching years ago anyway, except the obsessed Democrats.

      • Mooser on November 20, 2019, 12:58 pm

        “Only true believers would…/…the obsessed Democrats.” “Echin”

        If Trump should return to the hospital, he can always count on “Echin” to write his tweets.

  8. Mayhem on November 19, 2019, 8:36 pm

    An effort to get all 28 European Union member states to issue a joint statement condemning the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements as illegal is apparently being blocked by Hungary.

    The bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement yesterday that did not directly refer to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the matter, but reiterated that the union’s position “remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

    No text has yet been circulated among member states, as Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó makes it plain that his country would veto any statement on the settlement’s legality, even if it did not directly refer to Pompeo’s speech.

    Budapest has been at loggerheads with Brussels over the Middle East peace process several times in recent months. The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban also blocked a joint EU statement condemning the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    In March, Hungary became the first EU member state to open a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, much to the chagrin of other member states which cling to the position that international law prohibits opening such missions in the city in the absence of a comprehensive peace deal.

    Refer Hungary blocking joint EU statement condemning US settlement policy change

    • Mooser on November 20, 2019, 1:02 pm

      Yup, I agree, Israel’s policy is ‘strictly from Hungary’.

  9. Kathleen on November 20, 2019, 4:02 pm

    Bet Rachel, Andrea etc will not be bringing up this serious issue during debate tonight.

    The only one to ever get close to talking about the middle east honestly, factually is Tulsi Gabbard.

    The only Dem candidate who has anything up about this disastrous announcement is Tulsi

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