UN Expert, Palestinian Authority Condemn Sudden Policy Shift On Israeli Settlements

By Janet Ekatract

UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – On Tuesday, the United Nations through a UN independent human rights expert – condemned the U.S. administration’s sudden policy shift on the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory, Michael Lynk, spoke against the decision: “This is not a step towards peace or justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Lynk added that the administration’s decision is “undermining the rules-based international order.”

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to the press, announcing that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory “will no longer be viewed as illegal per se.”

Pompeo’s announcement contradicts the State Department’s 1978 legal opinion that stated the settlements are “inconsistent with international law.”

Meanwhile,  on Monday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) also condemned the U.S. policy shift, making it quite clear that the U.S. no longer has a role in the peace process. Official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina in a statement: “It is null and void, and totally contradicts international law and resolutions of international legitimacy.” 

Pompeo, in further comments to the press, said: “The hard truth is 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.”  The secretary of state added that the State Department’s 1978 legal opinion “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

According to international law, both the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered occupied territories and all Jewish settlements built there are considered to be illegal.

Over the last decade, an attempt to reach a two-state solution stalled at critical junctures, in large part due to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to halt settlement construction in those areas.
The Obama administration had strongly advocated for a two-state solution but the talks stalled precisely because of this settlement issue despite repeated attempts by former president Obama to get Netanyahu to comply with international law.

Lynk made it clear that the Trump administration’s sudden policy shift does nothing to promote a peaceful resolution for the Palestinians and Israelis.
PA spokesman Abu Rudeina said the U.S. has no right to arbitrarily cancel international resolutions. He emphasised that the U.S. has lost all credibility and added that: “We hold the American administration responsible for any repurcussions of this dangerous step.”

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