Final nail in the coffin of Palestinian-Israeli peace process
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US authorities no longer consider Israel’s settlements on the West Bank as a violation of international law, thus recognizing the "real situation on the ground.” The Russian Foreign Ministry regarded Washington’s decision as another step aimed at scrapping the international legal framework for a Middle East settlement that would aggravate the already tense situation in the Palestinian-Israeli relations.
Smolenskaya Square confirmed Russia’s position, reflected in the UN Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), according to which the establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders. They also prevent the establishment of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Moscow called on all parties involved to refrain from steps that could provoke a new dangerous escalation in the region and impede the creation of conditions for the resumption of the direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Gulf News in the article Final nail in the coffin of Palestinian-Israeli peace process writes, that a 1978 US State Department legal opinion held that colonies of the Israeli regime in the occupied West Bank were “inconsistent with international law”. Not so, says the present US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Backtracking on four decades of US policy, the Trump administration declared on Monday that America does not consider the colonies in the West Bank a violation of international law.
Long before this statement from Pompeo, the US had ceased to be considered a neutral arbiter in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But with the latest announcement, Washington has taken out the last obstacle to the annexation of more Palestinian territory by the Tel Aviv regime.
The White House move should also be seen in the context of domestic Israeli politics. It is the latest in a series of political gifts from the US to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made annexation of the West Bank a poll promise — not once, but twice this year. This comes as Netanyahu’s chief opponent, Benny Gantz, struggles to form a government. He has until Wednesday, failing which, Gantz will have to give up his claim.
For the Palestinians, the latest US move is shocking and evokes deep distaste as it is part of a pattern. It sends a message that international law doesn’t matter anymore. On Palestine, Washington has no rules. The law of the jungle prevails: might is right. It has been obvious for a long time that Jewish colonies in the Occupied Territories are illegal and have destroyed prospects of a two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would exist next to the State of Israel. Most countries see that as the only solution to the decades-old conflict. But Pompeo has said this US “legal review” creates the political space for a more likely resolution. How exactly, he didn’t mention.
America’s decision also delivers a new blow to its own “efforts” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through its so-called “Deal of the Century” that has been in the works for more than two years but has drawn widespread disdain and skepticism even before it has been presented to the public.