Sanders: Settlements are illegal, Trump isolating the US

Democratic presidential candidate criticizes Pompeo's declaration on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari ,

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders
Reuters

Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, on Monday rejected US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria do not contravene international law.

“Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base,” wrote Sanders.

Pompeo stated earlier that the American government does not consider Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria to be in violation of international law.

"The Trump Administration is reversing the Obama Administration's towards Israeli settlements. US public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades," he said at a press conference.

"In 1978, the Carter Administration categorically concluded that Israel's establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn't believe that the settlements were inherently illegal. Subsequent administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn't advance peace," Pompeo explained.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Pompeo's announcement, saying, "Today, the United States adopted an important policy that rights a historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law.”

"This policy reflects an historical truth - that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”

Sanders has come under fire for his statements against Israel, most recently when he told the J Street conference that the US should redirect its aid to Israel and give it to Gaza instead, while calling the Israeli government “racist”.

In August, Sanders said the US cannot prioritize the wants and needs of Israel over all else if it wants to help bring peace to the Middle East.

Last year, he criticized Netanyahu and his policies, saying, "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist... we must say loudly and clearly, that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel."



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