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World censures US policy shift on Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view shows Palestinian houses in the village of Wadi Fukin as the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit is seen in the background, in the occupied West Bank, on June, 19, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

International organizations and world states have sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s administration after it announced the United States was no longer considering Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank "inconsistent" with international law.

 The UN human rights office highlighted on Tuesday that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are in breach of the international law.

“A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the (UN) Security Council,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva.

European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, also said in a statement that the bloc's position on the settlements remains unchanged.

“All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334,” the statement said.

It added, “The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.”

Moreover, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, strongly condemned US stance change as regards Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"Aboul Gheit condemned in the strongest terms the statement, issued by US Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo], that his country no longer viewed the Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be contrary to international law and considered it as a very negative development," the 22-member regional organization said in a statement.

He added that international law was formulated by the global community, “but not by a single state.”

Turkish FM denounces US support for Israeli settlements

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has criticized the US decision to soften its stance on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“No country is above international law. Fait accompli style declarations shall have no validity with respect to international law,” Cavusoglu wrote in a post published in his official Twitter page.

Russia: US backing for Israeli settlements blow to peace process

Additionally, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denounced in a statement the Trump administration’s shift on the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement policy, stating that the decision undermines the legal basis for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The ministry also warned that the move would escalate tensions in the Middle East region.

Moscow’s stance is that such settlements on Palestinian territory are illegal under international law, the statement further read.

Syria condemns US stance on Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories

Moreover, Syria has condemned as “null and without any legal basis” the United States’ reversal of its stance on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

“Syria strongly condemns the US position vis-à-vis Zionist settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands, which forms a blatant violation of the international law and UN resolutions on the legal status of the occupied territories,” an unnamed official source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Tuesday.

The source added that such a stance is in line with the US disregard for the international regulations, and Washington’s unlimited support for the expansionist Tel Aviv regime to continue its aggression against Arabs’ rights.

"Syria emphasizes that the US position is void and has no legal basis as it is the case with Washington’s stance vis-à-vis Jerusalem al-Quds and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Such a stance, once again, shows that the United States is detached from the international community as a result of foolish polices, which are rooted in hegemony and arrogance," the source pointed out.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Monday that Washington no longer considered Israeli settlements in the West Bank as violating international law. 

He said Trump’s administration would no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that said the settlements were “inconsistent with international law.”

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