It was not surprising last month to see the letter written by 107 members of the US House of Representatives to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, berating him for having the temerity to declare that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not per se illegal.
The November 21 letter signed by 46% of the 233 Democrats in the House of Representatives – including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) – urged Pompeo to rescind his November 18 statement because such a decision reverses decades of bipartisan US policy on Israeli settlements, and blatantly disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Pompeo pushed back this week, as reported exclusively in The Jerusalem Post, writing to Michigan Rep. Andy Levin – who was behind the November 21 missive – that the two main points of the letter were “foolish.”
Indeed, it is. To believe that the existence of those Jewish communities is what holds up any agreement yet to be reached with the Palestinians is not just foolish. It is a distortion of history.
Yet it is something that has come to be accepted as “truth” by high-profile journalists and senior diplomats the world over. And that is why Pompeo’s declaration was important: it questioned publicly the self-perpetuating conventional wisdom on the settlements, that if the media says they are “illegal,” and European foreign ministers say they are “illegal,” then they must be illegal. No more.
First, Pompeo noted that the State Department’s determination did not reverse any policy regarding Israeli settlements, but did reverse a legal determination made during the waning days of the Obama Administration that the establishment of settlements was categorically inconsistent with international law. Continue Reading….