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Fri, 24 Jan 2020 02:23 GMT

Is Washington's Decision on Israeli Settlements Self-Serving President Trump?


7Dnews London - Ahmed Fathi

Tue, 19 Nov 2019 20:01 GMT

After the US administration took a decision contrary to international law to consider Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as "legitimate", eyes turned to President Trump indicating that this decision was in his interest in the coming elections.

It is not only in the interest of the US president, but it also serves Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Interim Prime Minister, who is waiting for his rival, Benny Gantz, to fail to form a new government and then hold elections.

The US decision is the latest in a series of controversial decisions and positions by the Trump administration toward Israel recently, most notably Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and the relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington had abandoned a four-decade-old policy that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law".

In this context, the settlements have been one of the issues that led to the suspension of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians since 2014. After Israel welcomed the recent US decision not to consider the settlements as a violation of international law, international and Arab criticism of the US decision continues.

In terms of reactions, one American writer, in an article entitled "Trump’s Latest Gift To Israeli Hard-Liners" in US magazine, The American Conservative, considers the decision by Washington to recognise Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a gift to a resolution that supports Israel's move to annex the West Bank as a whole.

The writer described Pompeo's remarks as "another gift to support the illegal Israeli occupation, and a step in a series of US decisions that weaken any prospects for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state."

The writer warned that the new resolution will anger Palestinians and Arab countries and cause differences between US and other countries seeking to settle the Palestinian issue.

In addition, the European Union (EU) on Monday condemned Israel's policy of building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, shortly after the announcement by the US Secretary of State, France 24 reported.

"The EU position on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is clear and unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law," High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement.

"The Israeli settlement policy undermines the possibility of achieving a two-state solution and the chances of a lasting peace."

"The EU calls on Israel to put an end to its settlement activities in line with its obligations as an occupying power," Mogherini said.

Furthermore, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the US decision to support Israel's right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied territories undermines the legal basis for settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The ministry condemned the US situation change and warned that the move would increase tension in the region. "Russia's position is that settlements on Palestinian land are illegal and contrary to international law," it said in a statement.

In turn, Amnesty International confirmed on Tuesday November 19th that Israeli settlement in the West Bank violates international law and amounts to war crimes.

According to DW, the organisation denounced the US announcement that it "no longer considers settlement construction in the West Bank a violation of international law."

"The US government has announced to the rest of the world that it believes that the United States and Israel are above the law: that Israel can continue to violate international law and human rights of the Palestinians and that the United States will strongly support it," the organisation said on its Twitter account.

In terms of the Arabs, the Palestinian Authority condemned Washington's position. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a presidential spokesperson, said in a statement that, "Washington is not qualified or authorised to cancel the resolutions of international legitimacy, and has no right to give any legitimacy to the Israeli settlement."

The spokesperson also blamed the US administration for "full responsibility for any repercussions of this dangerous situation."

In this regard, the Secretary-General of the Arab League States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, condemned in the strongest terms the statement announced by US Secretary of State, and considered it a very negative development.

Aboul Gheit warned in a statement on Tuesday that this unfortunate change in the US situation would push the hordes of Israeli settlers' to practice more violence and brutality against the Palestinian people.

"It also undermines any possibility of even a just peace based on ending the occupation in the near future through an American effort," he said.

The Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Mishaal Al-Salami, rejected the US announcement. He considered that "This announcement is a flagrant violation of international law and the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, especially resolution No. 2334 on the rejection of settlements, which stipulated the illegality of Israel's establishment of settlements in the territories occupied since 1967, and called on it to stop settlement in the West Bank and Jerusalem as occupied territories."

He stressed that the decision "is null and void and has no legal effect, and does not give any legitimacy to the Israeli settlement."

In the meantime, the UN Security Council at its monthly session on the Middle East, on Wednesday November 20th, will discuss Washington's recent declaration of the "legitimacy" of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, RT Arabic reported.

The United States often uses its veto to block UN Security Council resolutions against Israel, and in the last weeks of his term, former US President Obama angered Netanyahu by allowing the Council Resolution 2334, which considers Israeli settlements a "flagrant violation" of international law.

Sudden Military Exercises

On the other hand, the Israeli army suddenly launched on Monday a military exercise in the northern region near the border with Lebanon and Syria, days after the aggression launched on the besieged Gaza Strip, German news agency DPA reported.

"A sudden military exercise to examine the operational readiness and capabilities of the Northern Command began," a spokesperson for the Israeli army said. He added that "It is expected to end the sudden exercise, which is taking place in northern Palestine, especially in the Upper Galilee, on Tuesday."

The spokesperson pointed out that "The region will see an active movement of military vehicles and security forces and aircraft, will also hear whistles and the sound of explosions, in addition to activating a telephone system to call up reserve forces". He pointed out that this exercise is the second that is being conducted within the framework of readiness examinations.

Middle East