Photo: Flash 90

EU: ‘all settlements illegal under international law’

Israel and the United States are facing backlash within international forums over the Trump Administration’s declared position with regard to the legality of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a disputed region that includes the Jordan Valley, along with the biblical districts of Judea and Samaria.

Ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East, U.K. Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce reiterated the E.U.’s unified position on Israeli settlements, saying “I’m making this statement today on behalf of Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and of course, the United Kingdom. Our position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is clear and remains unchanged: All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334.”

Following up on their position during the security council’s meeting, German ambassador to the world body Jurgen Schulz stressed that Berlin views Israel’s construction of civilian communities in the West Bank as illegal. He further underscored that Israel’s referred to construction undermines the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution, the most broadly globally supported resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Schulz said “One of the main obstacles to a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the ongoing Israeli occupation, and the continued settlement activities in the territories occupied since 1967. We reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.”

Responding to the repeated international condemnation of the sovereign right of the United States to determine its own foreign policy in all fields – including but not limited to Israeli settlements on disputed lands, Washington’s deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet emphasized that a solution to the conflict can only be attained by means of direct negotiations. “It is the position of the United States that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law. We believe that this complex political problem can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis…The United States remains committed to the cause of peace, and Monday’s announcement does not alter this fact. We continue to believe that discussion between the parties is the path to finding a solution that works for both sides and promotes and protects the welfare of Palestinians and Israelis alike. But just as we are committed to the cause of peace, we are committed to Israel and its fair treatment at the United Nations. As ambassador Craft has made abundantly clear, and asked me to convey again today, the United States has always supported Israel in the past. We support Israel today, and we will support Israel moving forward,” said Washington’s deputy Ambassador.

The Israeli Ambassador to the world body Danny Dannon also rejected the international position. Ambassador Dannon seized the opportunity to reiterate Jerusalem’s position, which refutes the internationally adopted premise that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are an obstacle to finding a solution to the conflict. According to Danon “Many times members of this council have claimed, also today, that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are an obstacle to finding a solution to the conflict. The Pavlovian response of some European countries to Secretary Pompeo’s announcement only further delays the chances of ending the conflict. History teaches us that such claims have no merit. Let me be clear – Jewish communities are not an obstacle to peace.”