Pompeo: ‘A settlement isn’t illegal just by its nature of being a settlement’

Pompeo said the administration understood that the settlements weren’t illegal.

By World Israel News Staff

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “it was very clear” that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria were not illegal according to international law, in an exclusive interview with Israel Hayom on Wednesday.

Israeli settlements are not “per se, inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo said on Nov. 18 in a policy shift for the U.S., which had more or less adhered to a 1978 legal opinion put out by the State Department that had found such settlements to be illegal.

Pompeo expanded on his remarks nearly two weeks ago in the Wednesday interview, “This was really a legal analysis change more than anything else. So as you well know, there have been portions of the contested areas that Israel has settled that Israeli courts have ruled were legal, and some that they have ruled not lawful. What is inconsistent is those who believe that international law requires that every settlement is illegal just by the nature of it being a settlement.”

“Our statement is limited in the sense that it is not illegal per se, that there are other mechanisms to resolve it, including most importantly the political resolution that ultimately needs to be achieved. “

Pompeo would not say if this paves the way for Israel’s annexation of the territories. In February, rumors swirled that the White House would support such an Israeli move, but the White House swiftly denied it.

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“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative,” said Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman.

Pompeo said the U.S. decision would have positive effect on the possibility of coming to a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The outcome is a good one from a foreign policy perspective because we think this will create space for a political resolution for the challenges that have vexed the region for so long, we think there is not going to be some court ruling, some international court decision, some legal analysis to get this result, but rather a political resolution of the situation,” Pompeo told the paper.