World criticises US settlement move

AFP/Occupied Jerusalem
Filed on November 19, 2019 | Last updated on November 19, 2019 at 11.38 pm
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.- Reuters

The EU reiterated it still considers all settlement activity illegal.

The United States faced stiff international and Palestinian criticism on Tuesday over its decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements illegal, while the Jewish state's premier cheered on the "historic" move.

The United Nations and European Union stressed the decision would not change the reality that the settlements were illegal, while the Arab League condemned the unilateral move announced on Monday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said he was "very moved" by the announcement. Pompeo said that after legal consultation Washington had concluded the establishment of settlements was "not, per se, inconsistent with international law", saying he trusted the Israeli courts to decide.

The decision puts the United States at odds with virtually the whole of the rest of the international community and breaks with UN Security Council resolutions declaring settlements to be illegal as they are built in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israeli courts, however, have declared most major settlements legal.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the US decision did "not modify existing international law, nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the UN Security Council".

The EU reiterated it still considers all settlement activity illegal.

The Arab League called it an "extremely adverse development".

The Palestinian Authority called for an emergency meeting of the body. The only two Arab states to have signed peace treaties with Israel - Egypt and Jordan - also sharply criticised the US policy shift, with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warning of "dangerous consequences".

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said they would take a series of measures to oppose it, including calling for a United Nations Security Council debate.

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