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US settlement announcement causes outrage

THE shocking policy reversal of the US to consider Israeli settlements as legal gives a “green light to human rights violations all over the world,” an Israeli-Palestinian NGO warned today.

Human rights groups slammed the Trump administration’s declaration on Monday that it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be a violation of international law.

“The Trump administration’s farcical announcement doesn’t just green-light Israel’s illegal settlement project, but also other human rights violations around the world by obliterating the principles of international law,” rights group B’Tselem said.

The Jerusalem-based group’s spokesman Roy Yellin told the Star that the policy reversal represented a “crumbling of the world order established after World War II in response to horrific events including the Holocaust.”

“What the US is doing now is dismantling that order by saying that whichever state has the most power now has the right to break international law,” he said. 

The UN and the EU yesterday reaffirmed their long-standing positions that Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land are illegal.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined international condemnation of the move, tweeting that illegal Israeli settlements are an “obstacle to peace.”

“I stand by the UN security council resolution that settlements in the West Bank are a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law,” Mr Corbyn said.

The drastic policy change, announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is the latest in a string of policy gifts bestowed on Israel by the Trump administration, including recognition of the occupied Golan Heights and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. 

Mr Pompeo stated that the decision on legality of the settlements should be left to Israeli courts to decide rather than international law.

“The bottom line of this is that Palestinians will get nothing,” Mr Yellin told the Star, pointing out that Israeli courts do not serve the interests of Palestinians.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) also hit out at Mr Pompeo’s comment, saying it “erases Palestinians completely, inferring that the legality of settlements is only a matter for Israel.”

“With this move, the US is reinforcing Israel’s stated determination to further illegally colonise Palestine,” PSC director Ben Jamal said.

“It’s now more clear than ever that if Israel is not held to account and sanctioned by the international community, it will continue to implement the law of the jungle.”

The declaration was swiftly followed by calls from senior Israeli officials and far-right settler groups on social media to annex the West Bank. 

This reflected fears by Amnesty International’s Philippe Nassif that the policy reversal puts Palestinians at “increased risk” from settlement expansion, which sits “at the heart of human rights crisis in the area.”

About 600,000 colonialist settlers live in around 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.


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