Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced from the State Department Monday afternoon that the United States will no longer condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank, citing inconsistencies in previous policy and international law on the issue.
"The Trump Administration is reversing the Obama Administration’s approach toward Israeli settlements. U.S. public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades. In 1978, the Carter Administration categorically concluded that Israel’s establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion, and stated that he didn’t believe the settlements were inherently illegal," Pompeo said in his prepared remarks. "Subsequent Administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn’t advance peace. However, in December 2016, the Obama Administration, through Secretary Kerry, changed decades of this careful, bipartisan approach by publicly re-affirming the supposed illegality of settlements."
"After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this Administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law," he continued.
He then went on to explain that the U.S. will no longer express any view on the legal status of any settlement and is leaving determinations of legality up to Israeli courts. He emphasized this does not change the status of the West Bank or its ultimate determination, which he said should be left up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate.