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Tuesday Nov 19 2019

UN dismisses US policy change, says Israeli settlements illegal

Photo: AFP

GENEVA: A United States policy change has no impact on the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in annexed east Jerusalem, the United Nations said Tuesday, insisting that the settlements breach international law.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday Washington had concluded, after legal consultations, that the establishment of settlements was "not, per se, inconsistent with international law".

UN rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville said "a change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law, nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the Security Council."

The rights office will "continue to follow the longstanding position of the United Nations that the Israeli settlements are in breach of international law", Colville told reporters.

In his announcement, Pompeo said the US did not necessarily consider the settlements legal but, instead, would defer to the judgement of Israeli courts.

The majority of settlers live in settlements that Israeli courts have judged legal.

The decision puts the US at odds with virtually the whole of the rest of the international community and breaks with UN Security Council resolutions declaring the settlements to be illegal as they are built on occupied land.