Photo Credit: US Embassy Jerusalem / YouTube screengrab
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefs media from the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Jan. 9 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday that he is reversing the Pompeo Doctrine, a November 2019 decision by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ending a long-standing US view that Israeli communities in all post-1967 areas — including Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley, Golan Heights and about half of Jerusalem — are “inconsistent with international law.”

Speaking at a joint news conference in Buenos Aires with Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, Blinken said the US was “disappointed” in response to a statement by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich late Thursday night announcing that Israel will advance plans for the construction of more than 3,000 homes in existing communities Judea and Samaria following a deadly terror shooting attack earlier in the day. One Israeli was murdered and 11 others were wounded when three terrorists from Bethlehem deliberately rammed their cars into vehicles to bring traffic to a halt on Route 1, and then strolled between the stopped vehicles, shooting drivers and passengers who were stuck in traffic.


“Look: we just saw another horrific terrorist attack, and this in Ma’ale Adumim, and my first thought is with the victims of that attack. And we continue, will continue – excuse me – to fully support Israel’s right to security, to self-defense, and to dealing with terrorism,” Blinken told reporters.

“On settlements, we’ve seen the reports, and I have to say we’re disappointed in the announcement. It’s been longstanding US policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace. They’re also inconsistent with international law.

“Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion. And in our judgement, this only weakens – it doesn’t strengthen – Israel’s security,” Blinken said.

“[President Ronald] Reagan said Israeli settlements were legal,” Kohelet Forum director Eugene Kontorovich pointed out in response.

“That position has never been reversed – until now. It took Hamas murdering, torturing, and raping Jews to keep them from living between “the river and the sea” to get US to say law prohibits Jews from living btwn the river and Sea,” Kontorovich wrote in a post on the X social media platform.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also strongly criticized Biden’s new US position, “Judea and Samaria are rightful parts of the Jewish homeland, and Israelis have a right to live there. President Biden’s decision to overturn our policy and call Israeli ‘settlements’ illegal will not further the cause of peace. It rewards Hamas for its brutal attacks on October 7th and punishes Israel instead. These Israeli communities are not standing in the way of peace; militant Palestinian terrorism is.”

It’s also important to point out that what the Biden Administration is calling “settlement expansion” is a move to advance construction of badly-needed additional housing in existing Israeli communities — not the construction of new settlements, as Blinken erroneously claimed.

Multiple Democratic administrations have used the disingenuous term “settlement expansion” — which implies an expansion of the number of settlements — to delegitimize natural community growth within the legal municipal boundaries of existing Israeli communities in Area C of Judea and Samaria — an area over which Israel has total administrative and security control under the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.