Pompeo: U.S. Support for Israeli Communities Advances Peace With Palestinians

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman speaks during the Kohelet Forum Conference at the Begin Heritage Center, in Yerushalayim, on Wednesday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington’s backing for Israeli communities in Yehudah and Shomron will advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, angering Palestinian leaders who seek the territory for their state.

Pompeo in November announced that the United States no longer viewed Israeli communities in Yehudah and Shomron as “inconsistent with international law.”

The move delighted Israel and provides important U.S. support amid a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) inquiry into alleged war crimes in Palestinian areas, including Yehudah and Shomron.

Speaking by video link at a policy forum dubbed “The Pompeo Doctrine” in Yerushalayim, Pompeo, in a pre-recorded statement, said the administration of President Donald Trump returned to a “balanced and sober” approach to Middle East peace by changing its position.

“It’s important that we speak the truth when the facts lead us to it. And we are recognizing that these settlements don’t inherently violate international law,” Pompeo said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the Trump administration’s backing was a “proper answer to the decision by the ICC in the Hague to investigate Israel‘s actions in Judea and Samaria.”

Last month, the ICC’s chief prosecutor said she would launch a full investigation into Yehudah and Shomron, as well as East Yerushalayim and the Gaza Strip as soon as the Hague-based body’s jurisdiction had been established.

The prosecutor’s announcement opened the possibility of charges being filed against Israelis and Palestinians.

“The ‘Pompeo doctrine’ regarding the status of the settlements simply states that we are not foreigners in our homeland,” Netanyahu told the conference, hosted by the Kohelet Policy Forum, a Yerushalayim think-tank.

The conference sought to build upon the new U.S. stance by laying out legal arguments in defense of Israeli communities in Yehudah and Shomron.