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Pindostan says Israeli settlements no longer considered illegal in dramatic shift
Julian Borger, Oliver Holmes, Groon, Nov 18 2019

Pindostan has declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are not necessarily illegal, in a dramatic break with decades of international law, Pindo policy and the established position of most Pindo vassals. Sec State Pompeo said:

Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.

He said the legality of individual settlements should be decided by the Israeli courts, and claimed that the Pindo declaration would not prejudice an ultimate comprehensive settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. Pompeo even suggested the move would “provide the very space for Israelis and Palestinians to come together to find a political solution.” The Pindo embassy in Jerusalem appeared to be bracing for a hostile reaction from Palestinians, issuing a warning against travel to Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Senior Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat said:

Once again, with this announcement, the Trump administration is demonstrating the extent to which it’s threatening the international system with its unceasing attempts to replace international law with the law of the jungle.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, responded with a tweet saying that settlements were “a blatant violation” of international law which would have “dangerous consequences.” Netanyahu immediately lauded the announcement, saying that Pindostan had righted a “historical wrong” and accepted the “reality on the ground.” The Pindo declaration marks the rejection of a 2016 UNSCR that says settlements on the West Bank are a “flagrant violation” of international law, of Pindostan’s own legal position on the issue since 1978, and of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which outlaws transfers of population by an occupying power. It will signal a new rift with Pindo vassals in Europe and in the Islamic world. In a statement issued little more than an hour after Pompeo had spoken, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said:

The EU policy on Israeli 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.

Pompeo’s statement is an extension of previous Trump policy, which has been marked by a series of radical pro-Israeli moves and the abandonment of Faschingstein’s historic role as broker. The administration has already recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and Israeli sovereignty in the occupied Golan Heights. In making the case for the policy shift, Pompeo repeated some of the language he had used to justify the recognition of Israeli control of the Golan, saying it reflected “the reality on the ground,” and that it arose from the unique facts, history and circumstances” around the establishment of settlements. He also argued that Ronald Reagan had taken a similar position. In fact, Reagan dropped the term “illegal” to describe settlements, but deemed them to be an “obstacle to peace” and called for a freeze in new construction. The move is a boon for Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival as he waits to see if his opponent Benny Gantz can assemble a coalition government. Pompeo’s rare appearance in the State Dept briefing room at a time when he has been criticised for failing to stand up for Pindo diplomats caught up in the Ukraine impeachment scandal may also be designed to enhance his profile among Thugs in his own state of Kansas, where he appears to be contemplating a run for a Senate seat. Pompeo said the timing of the announcement was “not tied to domestic politics anywhere,” insisting that it had been made on the conclusion of the legal review of the Pindo position. In his remarks welcoming the announcement, Netanyahu said:

Israel is deeply grateful to Pres Trump, Sec Pompeo and the entire Pindo administration for their steadfast position supporting truth and justice, and calls upon all responsible countries who hope to advance peace to adopt a similar position.

Gantz also backed the Pindo declaration. he said:

I applaud the Pindo government for its important statement, once again demonstrating its firm stance with Israel and its commitment to the security and future of the entire Middle East.

A member of the Yesha Council said the Pindo announcement meant the time was ripe for the Israeli government to immediately claim sovereignty over settlements, a move that is largely seen as an end to Palestinian aspirations of statehood. Oded Revivi, the council’s foreign envoy:

I congratulate President Trump and his government on the truly courageous recognition, settlements are not a crime and not a barrier to peace. Now is the time to take action utilizing our political and legal platforms to apply Israeli law.

Pindo settlement announcement prompts Israeli calls for takeover
Oliver Holmes, Groon, Nov 18 2019

Palestinian medic faces Magav cops near Beit El on Monday.
(Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Faschingstein’s announcement that it no longer considers Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal has elicited a wave of euphoria from Israeli rightwing figures and indignation from Palestinians. Senior Israeli officials and settler groups said the shift in Pindo policy meant the time was ripe for Israel to take permanent control of the settlements, a move that is largely seen as an end to Palestinian aspirations of statehood. Former justice minister and pro-settlement hardliner Ayelet Shaked thanked Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo in a tweet, writing:

The Yesha Council also called on the Israeli government to immediately claim sovereignty over settlements. In September, days before he was due to run in a national election, PM Netanyahu said he intended to annex Jewish settlements but gave only a vague timeframe. His political future may also be in jeopardy after an inconclusive election threw Israeli into political paralysis. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said Pindostan had neither the “right nor agency to rewrite international law” and was spreading lawlessness. she said:

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

The Pindo policy shift comes just a week since the ECJ ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be properly labelled, a move that was widely decried in Israel. Israel’s transportation minister Betzalel Smotrich, head of a pro-settler party, said before the Pindo announcement, which was expected, that it would be “an appropriate response to the hypocritical decision by the European court.” Since he entered office, Trump has repeatedly made moves welcomed by Israeli hardline nationalists that have been interpreted as detrimental to Palestinians and their hopes for a future state. Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, slashed humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and closed their diplomatic offices in Faschingstein. Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has also been a longtime supporter of the settlement movement. Diana Buttu, a former adviser to PA Pres Mahmoud Abbas who has been involved in political negotiations since 2000, said Pindo policy had been moving in this direction for decades. She said:

The Trump administration been giving everything to Netanyahu as a gift over the course of the past nearly three years. This was next on Netanyahu’s wishlist. This isn’t just about Trump, as bad as Trump is, as terrible as a president he is. We saw this all happening through the negotiations. There was a continued attempt to water down the illegality of settlements. Israel got the message that might is right.

Trump administration no longer considers Israeli West Bank settlements inconsistent with international law
Andrew Buncombe, Bel Trew, Independent, Nov 19 2019

Pindostan has reversed its four-decade policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank by saying it no longer considers them inconsistent with international law. The latest in a series of concessions to Netanyahu, the Trump administration said it was “reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements.” In a televised appearance at State Dept, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said:

The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.

The building of Jewish settlements on territory historically occupied by the Palestinians has been repeatedly condemned by the international community, and is the subject of several UNSCRs. As recently as 2016, UNSCR 2334 denounced the establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, as having “no legal validity” and constituting “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders.” Pompeo suggested the position of Pindostan towards the West Bank had changed over the years, even if Faschingstein’s official policy had not altered for 40 years. He said while Carter in 1978 found they were not consistent with international law, Reagan in 1981 said he did not view them as inherently illegal. Hagit Ofran, from Peace Now told The Independent:

He might as well say that the day is night, but it will not change the fact that settlements are a violation of the international law. But even more important than their legal status, settlements are bad for Israel, bad for the chances for peace and bad for the stability of the region. Pindostan is turning its back on the two-states solution and is paving the way for the Israeli government to move forward with annexation plans and making the one-state reality more permanent.

A spokesperson for PA Pres Mahmoud Abbas said the move by Washington “contradicts totally with international law.” Both supporters and detractors claim Donald Trump’s friendlier approach to settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction. Dror Etkes, who has spent two decades monitoring the Israeli settlement enterprise and heads a watchdog named Kerem Navot, said:

No wonder that the sec state who denies climate change and opposed affordable healthcare and voted against public funding for abortions, supports that the Israeli settlement/apartheid in the West Bank.

Jewish settlement construction in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem has spiked since Trump took office in 2017, according to official data obtained by AP. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement:

Today, Pindostan adopted an important policy that rights a historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law. This policy reflects an historical truth, that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.

It remains to be seen if Trump’s move will help Netanyahu, as he struggles to stay in power. Israeli politics is deadlocked after two inconclusive elections this year. Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party emerged neck and neck with Netanyahu following a September vote, and both have struggled to put together a ruling coalition. Soon, after Pompeo made his statement on Monday, the Pindo embassy in Jerusalem said in a statement:

The Pindo embassy advises Pindo citizens in or considering travel to or through Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment.

UN rights office says Israeli settlements remain unlawful
Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, Nov 19 2019

GENEVA – The UNHRC said on Tuesday that Israeli settlements in OPT remain in breach of international law, rejecting the Trump administration’s position that it now backed them. Pindostan on Monday abandoned its four-decade-old position that the settlementments, built on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War, were inconsistent with international law. UNHRC spox Rupert Colville told a news briefing. He said:

We continue to follow the long-standing position of the UN that Israeli settlements are in breach of international law. A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the ICJ and the UNSC. The ICJ ruled in 2004 that Israeli settlements in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, were established in breach of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which both Pindostan and Israel have ratified, lays down that an occupying power shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

NGOs also rejected the Trump administration’s new stance, announced by Pompeo. Andrea Prasow of HRC said in a statement:

This changes nothing. President Trump can’t wipe away decades of established international law that settlements are a war crime.

Philippe Nassif of Amnesty International said in a statement:

Today, the Pindo government announced to the rest of the world that it believes Pindostan and Israel are above the law. The construction and maintenance of the settlements breach international law and amount to war crimes. Israel can continue to violate international law and Palestinians’ human rights and Pindostan will firmly support it in doing so.

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