BRUSSELS—A few hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the United States no longer views Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria as violating international law, E.U. foreign-affairs chief Federica Mogherini stated that the European Union’s position on the issue “is clear and remains unchanged.”
“The E.U. position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334,” she said.
“The E.U. calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power,” she added. It “will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”
In his Monday announcement, Pompeo said: “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” noting that the ultimate status of these neighborhoods must be decided by Israelis and Palestinians themselves.
“The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.
However, Pompeo said that the United States will not take a position on the legality of settlements, and that the new policy will not extend beyond Judea and Samaria.
Pompeo’s announcement is consistent with the Trump administration’s support of the United States’ principal Middle East ally, which has included recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv; merging the U.S. Consulate General with the embassy; halting U.S. financial aid to the Palestinian Authority due to its support of terrorism; withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The U.S. move comes a week after Washington criticized the European Court of Justice over a ruling requiring E.U. member states to label products from Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights not as “made in Israel,” but as “made in Israeli settlements.”