Thursday, November 21, 2019

Historic declaration by Trump administration: Israeli villages in Judea/Samaria are not illegal

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo made a very significant announcement in Israel's favor:
In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. The policy change was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.

“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with president Reagan,” Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Pompeo, saying “the United States adopted an important policy that rights a historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law.

“This policy reflects an historical truth – that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”
One of things that makes this important is that it helps deal a rebuttal to the European Union court that recently declared that all Israeli products from Judea/Samaria must be labeled as such, which only served the purpose of the BDS movement. This US declaration, however, handily deals a blow to that offensive position in Europe, along with the BDS movement itself. Why, it even leaves Benny Gantz with far less of a platform, if he believes in negatives for Israel.

Mike Evans wrote about this historic moment:
Why is this a big deal? This is a major blow to the BDS movement, which calls to “boycott, divest and sanction” the State of Israel, in addition to being a snub to the recent call by the European Court of Justice to label products from Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria. The court ruled that: “Foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin.”
Well now it won't be so easy, and the US did state they were deeply concerned about a week ago. Following this news, Netanyahu approved a bill for annexing the Jordan valley today:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his approval on Tuesday to advance a bill that would have Israel apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley after the US State Department reversed its stance of viewing Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. [...]

Likud MK Sharren Haskel proposed the annexation bill weeks ago, but decided to fast-track it in light of the change in US policy.

“The bill has the prime minister’s full backing,” Haskel said. [...]

Haskel submitted a request to exempt her bill to annex the Jordan Valley from the mandatory six-week waiting period for any new legislation so that it can go to a vote in the plenum next week. The request will be subject to a vote in the Knesset Arrangements Committee, led by Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn while his party’s leader Benny Gantz has the mandate to build a government.

Haskel called on Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher to join the Likud’s efforts to annex the Jordan Valley, “in light of the one-time-only chance that we have before us” with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I call on them to stand behind their promises and words, and vote together with the Likud on applying sovereignty,” Haskel said. “There is no reason that this important bill won’t pass in the plenum with an 80-MK majority.”
It'll certainly be interesting to see if Benny Gantz's party is willing to support this, along with Liberman's party, and Labor. They'd do well to support the bill, if they really want to prove they respect history and safety for Israel.

Update: Caroline Glick also praised the announcement.

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