The United States Secretary of State has made an unprecedented visit to an Israeli settlement in the illegally occupied West Bank and the disputed Golan Heights, the first chief diplomat from the US to do so. Mike Pompeo visited The Psagot Winery, part of a network of settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.
The United States has sought in recent years to break with the international consensus including Security Council resolutions that have explicitly determined the illegality of settlements and Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights as null and void and without international legal effect.
With Pompeo’s visit, a reaffirmation of Washington’s position that it no longer considers settlements illegal despite a 2016 Security Council resolution reaffirming them as a flagrant violation under international law and without legal validity.
“Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights. The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality. During the Trump administration, America stands with Israel like never before. Indeed, the commitment we’ve made, the iron-clad commitment we’ve made to the Jewish state will continue,” said Pompeo.
But these moves by the United States have largely isolated them on the international stage, no less in the United Nations Security Council, even from their closest allies.
Ambassador Jonathan Allen of the United Kingdom, “As we made clear repeatedly in this Council, the United Kingdom opposed annexation and welcomed its suspension. Other unilateral action which jeopardises the physical viability of a future Palestinian state is also unacceptable. The United Kingdom condemns the Government of Israel’s publication of tenders for construction in the East Jerusalem settlement of Givat Hamatos, an extremely sensitive area of the West Bank. Settlements are illegal under international law and remain an obstacle to peace and a threat to the two-state solution.”
This was echoed by European Union member states.
German Ambassador Gunter Sautter, “As we have emphasized jointly with our European partners in numerous discussions with the government of Israel, these steps also weaken efforts to rebuild trust and confidence between Israelis and Palestinians, with a view to resuming dialogue. We call on Israel to reverse these negative decisions and to immediately cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including in sensitive areas around East Jerusalem, such as Givat Hamatos, Har Homa and e1.”
South Africa’s Ambassador Jerry Matjila joined other Council members in condemning the continued seizures and demolition of Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“As we have done previously, South Africa calls on the Security Council to hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions, that are in contravention of this Council’s resolutions as well as international law. If this was occurring with almost any other issue on the Council’s agenda, we would not have hesitated to take action. Double standards perpetrated by the Council only undermines its credibility and ability to fully implement its mandate to maintain international peace and security.”
Pompeo also earlier announcing that the State Department would declare the global BDS movement as anti-Semitic. The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is a non-violent international Palestinian-led initiative that seeks to use economic punitive actions to pressure Israel to meet its obligations under international law and modelled after the international anti-apartheid movement against South Africa. Pompeo labelled the movement a “cancer” and directed the State Department to ban funding to any organisation it determines to be participants or supporters of the BDS movement.”