[Ed. – This is a big move. The AP story gives you the standard left-wing line on the settlements. Josh Hammer at Daily Wire offers the Trump/Pompeo perspective. Pompeo’s language indicates the U.S. doesn’t seek to prejudice a future agreement on a “Palestinian” state, but affirms that in the existing circumstances, with the history of international agreements on the territory in question, Israel is not violating the Geneva conventions by constructing settlements in the West Bank. Notably, this U.S. posture neutralizes the Obama administration’s unprecedented abstention on UN Resolution 2334 in December 2016, which condemned the settlements as a violation of international law.]
The Trump administration on Monday said it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be a violation of international law, reversing four decades of American policy and further undermining the Palestinians’ effort to gain statehood.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. is repudiating the 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” Israeli leaders welcomed the decision while Palestinians and other nations warned that it undercut any chance of a broader peace deal.
Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that the Trump administration believes any legal questions about settlements should be resolved by Israeli courts and that declaring them a violation of international law distracts from larger efforts to negotiate a peace deal.