(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration's approach toward Israeli settlements." U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the U.S. would no longer view Israeli civilian settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal under international law, a dramatic shift drawing the government of Donald Trump even closer to that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and moving the U.S. further from the multinational stance that views the settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law." Over 400,000 Israelis now live in about 120 communities built in parts of the West Bank of the Jordan River captured in a 1967 war.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) RAPHAEL MORRIS, 24-YEAR-OLD, FROM SETTLEMENT OF ACHIYA, SAYING (OCTOBER 17, 2019): "It's our land.
All the land of Israel is our land and we are supposed to build here a new village and not the Arabs." That land is also home to over 2.8 million Palestinians who see the West Bank as part of a future independent state.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) 64-YEAR-OLD MOHAMMAD AWAD, A FARMER FROM WADI FUKIN, SAYING: "It's impossible to have peace between us because the main conflict between us is on a piece of land which they took by force, so how can I let a person steal my land, live in it and enjoy it, and live with him in peace?
But the strongest wins." Continued Israeli settlement construction provoked violent clashes last month.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its population to captured territory.
And Palestinian advocates and peace activists have long tried to use international law as a counter-weight to Israeli's de facto military dominance in the struggle.
In the final weeks of the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry said continued Israeli settlement could doom the two state solution.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING (DECEMBER 28, 2016): "It is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible." The move Monday is the latest step by Trump embraced by Netanyahu, who praised Pompeo's statement, saying it righted an historic wrong.
Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel's annexation of the occupied Golan Heights, and cut international assistance to Palestinians.