US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended the Trump administration’s policy shift on Israeli settlements in an interview with Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom.
In the remarks, which will be published in full tomorrow, Pompeo described the move as “both the correct one and the one that is in the best interest of the security situation in Israel as well as the situation between Israel and the Palestinian people”.
In the policy announcement, Pompeo declared that the US no longer viewed Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory as “illegal per se”, as he put it to Israel Hayom.
“This was really a legal analysis change more than anything else,” Pompeo continued. “There have been portions of the contested areas [the occupied West Bank] that Israel has settled that Israeli courts have ruled were legal, and some that they have ruled not lawful.”
“What is inconsistent is those who believe that international law requires that every settlement is illegal just by the nature of it being a settlement,” he added.
“Our statement is limited in the sense that it is not illegal per se, that there are other mechanisms to resolve it, including most importantly the political resolution that ultimately needs to be achieved.”
The senior official said that the decision was the result of a long process at the State Department, and is intended to be good for peace.
“The outcome is a good one from a foreign policy perspective because we think this will create space for a political resolution for the challenges that have vexed the region for so long.”
Pompeo also repeated assurances that have been given by US officials that the administration will “before too long… present our peace vision to the world”.
“We hope they [the Israelis and Palestinians] will see it, we think this vision provides a road map forward for an effective conversation to ultimately get to what is in everyone’s best interests, and that is the peaceful resolution of this long conflict,” Pompeo declared.