Blinken calls new Israeli settlements inconsistent with international law

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken

Secretary of state’s characterization of West Bank settlements signals return to longstanding US policy reversed by Trump.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, speaks at a press conference at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires on Friday. 

Israel’s expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank was inconsistent with international law, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Friday, signaling a return to longstanding US policy on the issue, which had been reversed by the previous administration of Donald Trump.

The Trump administration in 2019 in effect backed Israel’s right to build West Bank settlements by abandoning a long-held US position that they were “inconsistent with international law”.

Speaking at a news conference during a trip to Buenos Aires, Blinken said the United States was disappointed in Israel’s announcement of plans for building new housing in the occupied West Bank, saying they were counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace.

“They’re also inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgment this only weakens, doesn’t strengthen Israel’s security,” Blinken said.

In November 2019, Trump’s then secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, announced that Washington no longer viewed Israel’s settlements on West Bank land it captured in the 1967 Middle East war as “inconsistent with international law”, a reversal of four decades of US policy.

Palestinians and the international community view the transfer of any country’s civilians to occupied land as illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and UN security council resolutions. Many countries condemned the announcement.