We can’t really say for sure what prompted Secretary State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday that the U.S. no longer believes that West Bank settlements are automatically illegal as a matter of international law. But we can say that it came at a most opportune time and is most gratifying.
It came on the heels of last week’s obnoxious ruling by the European Union’s European Court of Justice that products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such to “enable consumers to make informed, ethical decisions.” It also follows months of under-the-radar growth of the BDS movement and ongoing proceedings against Israel in the International Criminal Court based upon the notion that settlements are illegal. And of course the UN Security Council ostensibly condemns Israel regularly on the same basis. (Pompeo’s announcement was essentially a direct repudiation of the infamous UN Resolution President that Obama allowed to pass, which declared that settlements are “a flagrant violation” of international law.)
In his announcement, Pompeo made an obvious point that is conveniently ignored by most of the international community: “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace. The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
In this context, Pompeo went on to emphasize the historical ties of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria and said the Trump administrations position “is based on the unique facts, history and circumstances presented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank.”
The new policy also rounds out earlier moves by the Trump Administration: recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and acknowledging Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In sum, President Trump seems to support the notion that there is a Biblically-confirmed, historical reality that is in play in the Middle East that will not be overtaken by the efforts of those who wish to insert a fictive one. The comparison between Trump and the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates is breathtaking and should never be forgotten.