US Ambassador briefed Gantz ahead of settlement announcement

Had Gantz informed of readiness to declare government within 24 hours, it is uncertain announcement would have been made.

Mordechai Sones ,

Friedman, Gantz
Friedman, Gantz
Flash 90

Early Monday morning, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman briefed Blue and White Chairman MK Benny Gantz ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement, reports Channel 13 News' Barak Ravid.

The purpose of the briefing was to assure that the announcement would not come as a surprise and thus comprise interference in Israel's political process, and so as not to disrupt Gantz's coalition-forming efforts.

Friedman explained the announcement's background to Gantz and, according to the report, Gantz did not express opposition, nor did he request the announcement be postponed.

Ravid quoted a senior U.S. official saying had Gantz informed the Americans of readiness to declare a government within 24 hours and requested a postponement, it is uncertain that the announcement would have been made.

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

Addressing reporters at a press conference Monday, Pompeo said: "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."

"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.

He accused former US Secretary of State John Kerry of changing "decades of this careful, bipartisan approach by publicly reaffirming the supposed illegality of settlements" in December 2016, at the end of the Obama Administration.