Listen: Why Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace
"Over the past half century. Israel has built hundreds of settlements or Jewish enclaves on the land it captured from Jordan in the Six Day War of nineteen sixty seven seven. This land claimed by Palestinians for their future state which is why settlements are seen by many as an obstacle to peace the president of over four hundred thousand Israeli settlers living in the West Bank basically means that a Palestinian state cannot come into being is our Israel correspondent respondent Mason Jerusalem. Many of those settlements are stuck in between the main Estonian cities and towns so contiguous state cannot exist as long as they're there and their presence also means that it was obvious that so in effect they ensure that the military occupation of the Westbank continues the the announcement came just ahead of a key date in Israel. Today is the deadline for opposition leader. Benny Ganz to build coalition bowling. September's inconclusive election Prime Minister Benjamin. Netanyahu has already failed to form a government. Both candidates praised the trump administration's change in policy but the decision was America at odds with much of the international community. The international consensus regarding the settlements has been there in contravention of the full Geneva Convention. Attention which basically says that transfer or settlement of an occupied territory by the occupying power is against international law. And that's been the interpretation Shen of the Geneva Convention regarding Israeli settlements by most of the leading legal experts. There are some dissenting views of. Israel clings to those dissenting ending views in building the settlements. But that's been the broad consensus for decades now and so in that sense Mike Pompeo's announcement came as something of surprise. Well the competitive management didn't come as a surprise because certain elements within the administration were very pro Israel and pro the settlement lobby chief among them the US ambassador to Israel. Israel David Friedman who before becoming a master was both trump's bankruptcy la and financial backer of the settlements. They have been trying for the past three years to get a clear statement out of the administration saying that American doesn't see the settlements as being illegal and it has to be noted that in the past also the Reagan administration. Distraction made similar statements. So it hasn't always been one hundred percent clear what the American position on this has been. US public statements on settlement activities. In the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades in one thousand nine hundred seventy eight. The Carter Administration categorically concluded that Israel's establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However in Nineteen eighty-one president? Reagan disagreed with that conclusion. And stated that he didn't believe that the settlements were inherently l.. Legal actually most of the American administration's haven't even talked about the legality. They've called the settlements an obstacle to peace instead of diving into this rather controversial legal question so in a sense this kind of puts a finer point on kind of formalizes. Something that from the American standpoint had been kind of informally the case. What has been the case over the past three years? Because the trump administration had been very ambivalent towards the Israeli settlement activity previous administrations had condemned settlements especially the first Bush administration tried to limit funding to Israel while the tantamount building was going on the trump administration and some of its representatives have been much more friendly towards the past two years. The trump administration has made a series of statements and actions regarding the Israel Palestine conflict back in December seventeen nineteen. They announced that they recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital that in a few minutes later move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A few months ago we had the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. And in between these. We've had a number of steps. Was the Palestinians. We had cutting off of aid various Palestinian agencies to the United Nations nations agency which works with Palestinian refugees the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington. All these things have put out a very clear signal where the trump administration restauration stands in the conflict. And even the timing of this announcement just a couple of days before the deadline for Bennigan's to form a government. Do you think it's connected to the current political the turmoil in Israel not directly connected to the current political situation for two reasons festival. It hasn't been times as some of the previous gestures were to help Out On the eve of an election other convenient junctures it doesn't seem to have been closely coordinating with Israeli government. That seems to have been something. which was it was very much an internal decision of administration? And do you think it's significant that it was Mr Pompeo who made the announcement. Well that's probably more about American politics in parents trying to show that he's not trump in many ways and loyal to some of trump's closest advisers. I think pump is also looking beyond the horizon of the trump trump administration and shoring up his own political bias. Perhaps his own run for the White House and this is a popular move among voters who he would also be relying upon one day if he runs for the candidacy and for the White House himself and now that Mr Pompeo has made this policy reversal. What do you think the immediate impact will be the speaking? Both Israeli officials Palestinians. No one's expecting an immediate impact even though they've been promises by Netanya before the last two election campaigns of going even further annexing parts of the West Bank. All those plans on hold because it doesn't a political deadlock there's no coalition in Israel. We have Netanyahu position bet against both failing instigate a majority Israel has been building settlements or the past fifty years regardless of what the administration positions being and on the Palestinian side. They've lost lost hope in anything. Good for them coming out. The trump administration long ago so for that. This wasn't a surprise. And they're facing their daily challenges whatever someone is saying in Washington it material to them but what about the prospects for grander scale change for the notion of annexation or in the other direction a meaningful peace process so the impact is perhaps lung It won't change anything the next few weeks and months. But when finally new government is formed in Israel. If it's a right wing government then the impetus to go ahead and AMEX parts. What's the West Bank will increase? Because now they seem to have a green light from the administration and even if the new government will be more central government under Benny Gansel some other interests lita. Yep It'll be much more difficult for them to justify so these ready public making any kind of changes on the ground baptists manning so because people will say them but the Americans okay so why make any of these changes if the settlements especially the ones which are deep within the West Bank or allowed to continue to grow that means the majority patient won't end either and any prospect of Palestinian statehood will be non-existent loop Israel basically in charge of one st with millions of Palestinians without optical rights and that's not the democratic say that Israel claims and takes pride in being so it's a situation which really is ready to have a solution Lucien right now and if anything compare announcement has made a solution for that even more remote"