Major US Policy Announcement Revealed at Historic Event in Jerusalem

by Avi Abelow

The Kohelet Policy Forum and the Shilo Forum hosted a historic event today in Jerusalem. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both spoke in conjunction with a special groundbreaking broadcast announcement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

As can be heard in the video, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disavowed the 1978 State Department Hansel memo that has guided US foreign policy since then establishing that Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria are illegal according to international law.

The Kohelet Policy Forum released a statement applauding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement “disavowing” the 1978 State Department memo that wrongly concluded that Israeli settlements violate international law.

For decades, a brief and poorly-reasoned memo by a State Department official had been relied upon as evidence that Israeli settlements are illegal. Now, Secretary Pompeo makes clear that the U.S. not only does not adopt the conclusions of the Carter-era memo, but entirely repudiates it as a source of legal guidance.

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum applauded the statement: “American Policy is now clearer than ever, Jews living in Judea and Samaria is not a crime. For decades, the obscure Carter-era memo was used as justification for anti-Israel policies despite the fact that its conclusions were rejected by subsequent administrations. Sec. Pompeo’s statement at the Kohelet conference today makes clear the U.S.’s wholesale rejection of the legal theory that holds that international law restricts Israeli Jews from moving into areas from which Jordan had ethnically cleansed them in 1949.”

Kontorovich noted that the Fourth Geneva Convention often cited as the basis for viewing the settlements as illegal is meant to apply only in a time of war, not for more than 50 years and to every house ever built in an area where no one was living but which happens to be generally disputed. Likewise, former Foreign Ministry director-general and current Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dore Gold said it was “obscene” that the Geneva Convention discussion of the Nazis’ forced deportation of Jews to death camps was now being used against Jews who wish to build homes in their ancestral homeland.

Historic Event

This is a historic event, because for decades Israel’s leaders, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, did not publicly challenge the international community’s erroneous claim that Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria are illegal according to international law. Today was the first public event with an Israeli Prime Minister fully standing up for the legal truth regarding Judea & Samaria. In addition, Pompeo’s announcement is one move further from his statement in November which declared that the United States “no longer recognize Israeli settlements as per se inconsistent with international law.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stated that “Israel has every right to settle Jews in Judea & Samaria thanks to a Biblical historic connection and thanks to international law with the San Remo conference and the League of Nations.”

“The Pompeo Doctrine says clearly that Israelis have the right, Jews have the right, to live in Judea & Samaria”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the event that “no Jewish communities or any communities will be uprooted in any diplomatic plan. It is crazy that “liberal” people support ethnic cleansing as part of a diplomatic plan”

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett stated at the event Sec. of State Pompeo stating legality of Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria didn’t create a new reality, it exposed the existing reality that has always existed”

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