The Trump administration is signaling a change in its policy regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and is said to announce its official plan Monday. The administration’s position will shift to allow the Israeli courts to determine the legality of settlements, according to a draft of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on the policy obtained by The Associated Press. The State Department had been reviewing the change for the past year, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“This is a decision in favor of the rule of law over politics or political expedience. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s clearly the right legal decision for many reasons. It shows tremendous political courage because you’re going to get a great deal of criticism from many corners around the world and there’s little or no upside politically, but it’s another example of doing the right thing that the law requires simply because it’s the right thing to do,” a civil rights lawyer with experience in the region told this reporter.
Many critics of Israeli settlements argue that it’s an obstacle to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians calling it an ‘occupation’ of stolen land. The United Nations argues that settlements make a two-state solution impossible. This was also the Obama administration’s feeling.
“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo says, according to the AP. “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.”
Proponents of Israeli settlements say that as long as Israel exists, regardless of the presence of settlements, the Palestinians will continue their campaign of aggression against the Jewish state simply because it’s a Jewish state.
In 2005, Israelis were expelled from their settlements in Gaza, however, that didn’t appease the Palestinians who shortly thereafter began firing rockets into Israel. To this day, that continues. Last week, Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists continued the campaign by firing hundreds of rockets into Central and Southern Israel from Gaza. There is currently a cease fire agreement between Jerusalem and the PIJ.