On November 18, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US no longer considers Israeli settlements inconsistent with international law, reversing a 1978 Department of State legal opinion that asserted that inconsistency, a position the US has affirmed since that time.
In December 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, which states that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law” and demanded, “that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.”
Since the 1967 War, when Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza began, Israel has established more than 230 settlements in the West Bank, with more than 800,000 settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (In 2005, Israel removed roughly 8,000 settlers living in the 21 settlements from Gaza, but it continues to subject the Gaza Strip to a blockade.) On Dec. 8, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu reiterated his plan to annex the Jordan River valley and West Bank settlements.
Three days after Secretary Pompeo’s announcement, 107 House Democrats rejected the position of the Administration as stated by Secretary Pompeo, articulating their position in a letter to him. They stated, “In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply.”
Palestinian churches and Christians have expressed deep concern about the US’ reversal, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and Kairos Palestine. The World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches in the USA have also criticized Secretary Pompeo’s announcement.
Please contact your representatives in Washington, urging them to reject the Administration’s reversal, and to continue to oppose Israeli settlements and settlement construction, expansion, and activity. If your representative signed the letter to Secretary Pompeo, please express your thanks and urge her/him to remain engaged.