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January 8, 2020 8:56 am

Pompeo Says US Support for Israeli Settlements Advances Peace With Palestinians

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a news conference in the Press Briefing Room at the State Department in Washington, DC, Jan. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Tom Brenner.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington’s backing for Israeli settlements in the West Bank will advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Pompeo announced in November that the US no longer viewed Israeli settlements on West Bank land it took control of from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War as “inconsistent with international law.”

That move delighted the Israeli government and provided important US support, with a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiry into alleged war crimes in Palestinian areas — including the West Bank — looming.

Speaking by video link at a Jerusalem policy forum dubbed “The Pompeo Doctrine,” Pompeo, in a pre-recorded statement, said the administration of US President Donald Trump returned to a “balanced and sober” approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts by changing its position.

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“It’s important that we speak the truth when the facts lead us to it. And we are recognizing that these settlements don’t inherently violate international law,” Pompeo said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Trump administration’s backing was a “proper answer to the decision by the ICC in the Hague to investigate Israel’s actions in Judea and Samaria,” referring to the West Bank.

Last month, the ICC’s chief prosecutor said she would launch a full investigation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as soon as the Hague-based body’s jurisdiction had been established.

The prosecutor’s announcement opened the possibility of charges being filed against Israelis and Palestinians.

“The ‘Pompeo doctrine’ regarding the status of the settlements simply states that we are not foreigners in our homeland,” Netanyahu told the conference, hosted by the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Jerusalem think tank.

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