TEL AVIV – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday denounced a Carter-era memo declaring Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be a violation of international law, calling it “deeply flawed.”
The U.S. is “disavowing the deeply flawed” 1978 policy drafted by then-State Department Legal Adviser Herbert Hansell, Pompeo said during a video message to a conference organized by the Kohelet Forum think tank.
“It’s important to speak the truth that the facts lead us to, and that is what we have done,” Pompeo said in his video message. “We are recognizing that settlements do not inherently violate international law.”
The Secretary of State’s remarks contrasted with a more moderate statement made in November in which he said that the U.S. “no longer recognizes Israeli settlements as per se inconsistent with international law.”
The U.S., Pompeo continued on Wednesday, is returning to a more “balanced” policy, “advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, also addressed the conference, saying the name Judea, the biblical name for the West Bank, “says it all.”
“It is the Biblical heartland of Israel,” Friedman told the audience in Jerusalem.
“You don’t need a Ph.D. or a law degree to know who has a good claim to this land,” Friedman said. “The answer, with all due respect to the scholars, is just obvious. Because it’s so obvious, because the right of Israel to settle in Judea and Samaria is so obvious, the goalposts started to move.”