ACT Alliance is dismayed by the latest declaration of the US administration on the legality of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
On Monday November 18, 2019, the Trump’s administration has once more undermined decades of US foreign policy by declaring that the State Department is going back from the Hansell Memorandum, a department legal opinion from 1978 that viewed settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, as inconsistent with international law. The 1978 legal opinion issued during the Carter administration, stated that (Israeli) “civilian settlements in those territories are inconsistent with international law.”
The Trump administration’s move is politically dangerous, morally questionable and it de facto legitimises Israel’s ongoing displacement and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people.
The UN Security Council and UN General Assembly have repeatedly declared those settlements as illegal, notably through Resolution 2334 of the United Nations Security Council adopted on 23 December 2016. The resolution condemns illegal Israeli settlements in “Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including annexed Jerusalem”. In its 2004 advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated that Israel’s transfer of its own population into occupied territory is in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Moreover, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) identifies such population transfer as a war crime.
This move clearly constitutes a dramatic break with international law and poses a serious threat to an already fragile region and the peace process.
Therefore, ACT Alliance, urges the US administration to reconsider its position and calls upon the international community to:
1. Reaffirm the internationally held position on the illegality of the Israeli settlements, and firmly reject the US position, identifying it as running counter to unified consensus under international law;
2. Strengthen support for all diplomatic and political efforts aimed at preserving the Palestinians’ rights and dignity, including by insisting on the inviolability of Palestinian territories and the continued rejection of the previous unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel;
3. Assume its international responsibility to protect Palestinians human rights and safety, which have been compromised as a result of the US statement.