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Israeli Settlements, U.S. Foreign Policy, and International Law

This commentary argues that the announcement of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement claiming that Israel’s settlements are not contrary to international law was connected to developments at the International Criminal Court (ICC) where the Prosecutor, a month later, announced that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Palestine by Israel and Hamas.

Israeli Settlements U S Foreign Policy and International Law
The International Criminal Court investigates war crimes committed in Palestine by Israel. MICHEL PORRO / Getty Images
 

Recieved Date: 01/02/2020    Accepted Date: 02/17/2020 

 

Introduction

 

On November 18, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”1 The statement caused international outrage as it marked a dramatic departure from previous U.S. statements on the legality of Israel’s West Bank settlements going back decades, and was widely seen as a political gift from one politician mired in legal trouble to another.2 Israel’s settlements have long been considered contrary to international law as they violate Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva (Civilians) Convention (1949), according to which “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”3

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