11/19/2019, 11.53
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US u-turn: settler settlements are not contrary to international law

For the Secretary of State Pompeo the status of the area must be "negotiated" and the US "increases the chances of peace". He applauds Netanyahu: a decision that "corrects a historical error". Palestinians warn: risks for "stability, peace and security". The EU considers its position on the subject unchanged.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The US administration led by President Donald Trump has made another radical U-turn on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, considering them no longer contrary to international law.

Announcing the decision, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that the status of the area should be "negotiated" by Israelis and Palestinians "to find a solution to this nagging problem" and that, with this move, the United States "increased the probability of peace ”.

Israel welcomed the news, which marks a radical change from the policies of predecessor Barack Obama who, among the last acts of his mandate, did not veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel. For the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who risks corruption charges, the decision "corrects a historical error" and invites other States to do the same.

The response from the Palestinian front is very hard, with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat talking about risks for "global stability, security and peace". He accuses the United States of wanting to replace international law "with the law of the jungle".

The settlements are communities inhabited by Israeli civilians and military and built in the territories conquered by Israel after the Six-Day War of June 1967, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. In 1979, Israel withdrew from settlements in Sinai after signing the peace agreement with Egypt, and in 2005 the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the dismantling of 17 Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Currently the colonies - illegal under international law - are located in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. According to data from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, those recognized in the West Bank are at least 133 - in addition to a hundred outposts - and host about 500,000 people. In East Jerusalem there are about 300,000 Israelis and 20,000 in the Golan Heights.

"After carefully analyzing all the legal issues inherent in the affair," said Pompeo, the United States concluded that the creation of "Israeli civil settlements in the West Bank is not, in itself, incompatible with international law." And the positions held so far on the controversy "did not work and did not advance the cause of peace".

Analysts and experts point out that Trump's "pro-Israel" move is not just an assist to Netanyahu in a moment of obvious difficulty, but also has an internal reason. In view of next year's presidential elections (November 2020), the White House tenant hopes to strengthen consensus among evangelical Christians.

The European Union note has arrived tightly, considering its policy on Israeli settlements as "unchanged", which remain "illegal under international law" and undermine "the feasibility of the two-state solution and the perspectives of lasting peace ". Hagit Ofran, leader of the Israeli anti-occupation movement Peace Now, comments with irony: "[Trump] can declare that night is day, but this will not change the fact that Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, but they are also a huge obstacle to the peace and stability of our region ”.

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