Antony Blinken
Antony BlinkenREUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came under fire following his announcement on Friday that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is “inconsistent with international law”, reversing the policy of the Trump administration on the issue.

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman wrote on X, “Blinken is 100% wrong. I researched this for over a year with many State Department lawyers. There is nothing illegal about Jews living in their biblical homeland. Indeed, Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow, also the Dean of the Yale Law School (who negotiated UNSCR 242), stated that Israel has the best legal claim to Judea and Samaria.”

“For Blinken to announce this in the middle of a war and when the Jewish Sabbath already has begun in Israel is unconscionable,” added Friedman.

House Speaker Mike Johnson shared Friedman’s post and wrote, “Ambassador David Friedman is absolutely correct. This is a shameful decision.”

“The Jewish people have a historic and legal right to live in the land of Israel including in Judea and Samaria - the biblical heartland. It is an absolute disgrace the Biden administration would issue this decision, especially as Israel fights terrorists on multiple fronts that seek Israel’s destruction and as more than 130 hostages remain in Gaza,” added Johnson.

“The Biden Administration must stop undermining Israel and facilitating efforts to delegitimize Israel. It is misguided and unconscionable,” he concluded.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote, “The Pompeo doctrine simply recognized reality: Judea and Samaria are the homeland of the Jewish people.”

“It’s shameful that the Biden Administration reversed this and rewarded terrorists—all to help Biden’s poll numbers in Michigan,” he added.

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) also shared Ambassador Friedman’s post and wrote, “Ambassador Friedman is correct. The Biden Admin’s disgraceful reversal undermines a close friend while rewarding the genocidal terrorists they are fighting. It is not a legal assessment. It is a political calculation meant to appease the pro-Hamas radical left. Shameful.”

Blinken, speaking at a news conference during a trip to Buenos Aires, said the United States was disappointed by Israel's announcement on Thursday of plans to approve new housing units in Judea and Samaria in response to the shooting attack near Maaleh Adumim.

Blinken said the new construction is counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace and then added, "They're also inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgment this only weakens, doesn't strengthen Israel's security.”

Blinken thus effectively revoked the so-called “Pompeo Doctrine”, which deemed Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria “not per se inconsistent with international law.”

In 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo implemented the policy, overturning a 1978 memo by State Department legal adviser Herbert Hansell, which characterized “settlements” as “illegal”.