United States embassy in Jerusalem issues travel warning after settlements announcement

Wednesday, 20 Nov, 2019

Saeb Erekat: "Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are not only illegal under global law, they are war crimes".

It cited a UN Security Council resolution from 2016, which called settlements a "flagrant violation" of worldwide laws, such as the 1949 Geneva Convention on the rules of war. Nullifying the 1978 State Department legal opinion would boost the chances for a Middle East peace settlement, Pompeo said. The basis for this is the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention which forbids the transfer by an occupying power of its people to occupied territory.

Pompeo's announcement on the legal status of settlements, says Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, risks substituting worldwide law with "the law of the jungle".

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian diplomat, said the Trump administration was a "threat" to the global order.

Therefore, the U.S. government is expressing no view on the legal status of any individual settlement, he said. "We can not do anything", Mahathir said.

Gilad said he fears that, over time, the move could widen the gap between Israelis and Palestinians and further erode Washington's customary role as an honest broker between the two. Netanyahu is also locked in a political battle with his rival, Benny Gantz, who is trying to cobble together a majority in Israel's Parliament by Wednesday. If they fail, Israel will face its third general election in a year.

Mr Pompeo denied a motivation to prop up Mr Netanyahu, saying: "The timing of this was not tied to anything that had to do with domestic politics anywhere in Israel or otherwise".

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted by the BBC on Monday as saying the US move threatened to replace worldwide law with the "law of the jungle".

Trump moved the USA embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel's annexation of the occupied Golan Heights, and cut worldwide assistance to Palestinians. This was also the Obama administration's feeling. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would reverse Pompeo's "blatantly ideological" shift on settlements. He explained that the future of Israeli settlements "should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and promote peace", not by dueling legal claims. Of course they are.

The worldwide community has focused for more than two decades on working towards a two-state solution. This reckless break from bipartisan policy is bad for Israel, Palestine and America. And, in a hypothetical world where Palestinian leaders are serious about making peace, declaring both sets of settlements illegal makes it almost impossible for these leaders to accept the continued existence of the settlements that Israel will never abandon.

This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he observed. "This is not a success for the State of Israel, it is a strategic danger". If a country wants to enter our country and build their settlements, that is legal.

But Israel has already been increasingly emboldened. His subsequent 1983 peace opinion talked about that "the instantaneous adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more than any diversified action" would strengthen the prospects for peace.

Israel's victory in the Six-Day War in 1967 left it in control of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. That year, a Pew Research survey found that only 17% of American Jews believed the continued building of settlements in the West Bank is helpful to Israel's security.

Hours later, the U.S. state department alerted Americans planning to visit Jerusalem, West Bank or Gaza that "those opposed to the secretary of state's announcement may target USA [government] facilities, interests, and citizens".

Adding that the legality of each Israeli settlement should be ruled on by Israeli courts.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.