Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday responded to a letter from Michigan’s Democratic Congress member Andy Levin and 107 House Democrats which rebuked Pompeo for his decision to reverse US policy on Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria (Led by Levin, House Democrats Scold Pompeo for Reversing US Policy on Judea, Samaria).
Pompeo addressed Levin’s argument that his announcement, declaring Jewish settlements in the liberated territories were not contrary to international law, reversed decades of bipartisan US policy and “blatantly disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
“I couldn’t disagree more with those two foolish positions,” Pompeo wrote Levin. “The State Department’s determination did not reverse any policy with regard to Israeli settlements. Rather, the State Department reversed a legal determination by [Secretary of State John] Kerry, made during the waning days of the Obama administration, that the establishment of settlements was categorically inconsistent with international law.”
Pompeo continued to school Levin: “That determination was made in a failed attempt to justify the Obama administration’s betrayal of Israel in allowing UNSCR 2334 – whose foundation was the purported illegality of the settlements and which referred to them as ‘a flagrant violation of international law’ – to pass the Security Council on December 23, 2016.”
Pompeo obviously does not believe that Kerry’s move enjoyed bipartisan consensus – it, in fact, resulted in bipartisan condemnation.
“While you are free to fixate on settlements as a barrier to peace, you are simply wrong in referring to that view as being subject to bipartisan agreement,” Pompeo told Levin, stressing that Article 49 of the Geneva Convention does not relate to Israel’s capturing Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which had been captured by force and without international sanctioning by Egypt and Jordan in 1949. Pompeo insisted the Trump administration “has thoroughly reviewed and analyzed this issue and we respectfully disagree.”
As to plans for peace, Pompeo wrote Levin: “We approach the issue pragmatically and diplomatically, but we eschew the erroneous positions of international law that have gained favor in the past decades.”
“The State Department’s recent determination that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se illegal is an important step in the peace process, and we are confident that it creates the right platform for further progress,” Pompeo insisted.
Check and mate.