PALESTINIAN Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has denounced US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration that the US no longer considers the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as violating international law.
In a statement Shtayyeh said: ‘We denounce and reject the statement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It’s a mockery of international law and resolutions that criminalise Israeli settlements and prohibit the occupying power from transferring its civilian population into occupied territory.
‘The bias of the Trump administration towards the most extreme in Israel blinds it from seeing the basic principles of international law and consensus. It’s an attempt to support (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu in the last moments of the competition for the post of Prime Minister,’ he added.
‘Israeli settlements deny the freedom and independence of the State of Palestine. We demand the international community addresses this dangerous statement, which is a blow to more than 25 years of international efforts towards the achievement of peace,’ said the Prime Minister, adding, ‘It’s crucial to translate political statements into action on the ground.’
- Also reacting to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer considers the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as violating international law, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet that fait accompli-style declarations shall have no validity.
‘No country is above international law’ he wrote. ‘Fait accompli-style declarations shall have no validity with respect to international law.
And in separate statements international rights groups denounced Pompeo’s announcement as being against international law.
The Geneva-based Euromed Monitor said it ‘strongly condemns this decision, which stands in flagrant violation of International Law and International Humanitarian Law, particularly Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates that: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”.’
Furthermore, it added: ‘We assert that Israeli settlements not only violate international law, but as a matter of fact remain a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.’
Euromed said the Trump administration’s announcement will essentially change nothing in the international illegality of settlement activities as the US has no mandate or agency to write off international law or alter global consensus.’
It commended the immediate response of the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on the US announcement, where she reaffirmed the EU’s position on all Israeli settlement activity as illegal under international law and erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.
‘We call on the EU to take further steps not only to maintain the viability of the two-state solution, but to genuinely advance a conclusion to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, including banning settlement products from EU markets in compliance with international law and to repudiate the US latest announcement,’ it added.
‘We also call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to immediately release the UN database of companies operating in Israeli settlements. This retribution is most essential to curb the US and Israel’s serious unilateral assault on the peace process and defend the long-established international order. Doing otherwise may render idle parties complicit in the erosion of chances for peace.’
Amnesty International also said in a tweet that the US announcement ‘does not and will not change the law which is crystal clear: the construction and maintenance of settlements in the Occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, breaches international law and amounts to war crimes.’
It added: ‘The United States government announced to the rest of the world that it believes the US and Israel are above the law: that Israel can continue to violate international law and Palestinians’ human rights, and the US will firmly support it in doing so.’
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement, ‘The US administration is wrong. It cannot change international law based on political whim.’
It added: ‘It is not only wrong on the law, but also on the impact it will have on Palestinians. Illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land continue to result in dispossession, forcible transfer and impoverishment of Palestinians. We see the impact of this daily in our work at the Norwegian Refugee Council – families forced from their homes, subjected to violence, their schools destroyed.’
NRC said, ‘Now is the time for other nations, the UN (The United Nations) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to step up, and challenge the US to stand for justice and promote peace.’
- Chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leadership has begun a series of emergency meetings to take measures and put mechanisms in place to confront the serious US decisions against the Palestinian issue, the latest of which was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on settlements.
The leadership affirmed that steps will be taken at home and meetings will be held for the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Fatah Central Committee, the National Action factions, popular committees, the civil society and the government to study the necessary recommendations to fortify the home front and strengthen popular resistance in the face of attempts to liquidate the Palestinian issue by the US administration.
It stressed that action will also be taken at the Arab and international levels, including going to the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to take critical decisions aimed at protecting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people according to international law, UN laws and international organisations specialised in the implementation of international law and the protection of human rights.
It said contact will be made with all Arab and international parties and international organisations, including pushing forward the files at the International Criminal Court, in addition to communicating with all countries of the world and sending important messages regarding the need to take strong and clear positions on the US decisions on Jerusalem, settlements and other issues related to the Palestinian question, and to take positions in support of the Palestinian stand and international law and legitimacy and the maintenance of world peace and security.
The leadership stressed the importance of establishing mechanisms to implement UN Resolution 2334 that condemned settlements as illegal under international law, in addition to completing accession to important international organisations, which constitute an important challenge.
From its emergency meeting the leadership called on the Palestinian people at home and everywhere to act to foil this conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause.
It decided that the meetings would remain in permanent session to follow up the implementation of its decisions.’