Politics, Middle East

Hamas chief decries US reversal on Israeli settlements

US said it no longer views Israeli settlements as illegal 'per se'

Hani al-Shaer and Nour Abu Eisha   | 23.11.2019
Hamas chief decries US reversal on Israeli settlements

GAZA CITY, Palestine

The political chief of Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Saturday denounced a U.S. policy change on the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

"Our people will not give up in the face of this U.S.-Israeli plot," Ismail Haniyeh said in statements on the sidelines of the inauguration of a medical center in the southern Gaza Strip.

He said the U.S. move aims "to redraw the map of the region to serve Israel".

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Israeli settlements in the West Bank will no longer be viewed as illegal "per se".

The announcement broke away from the State Department's 1978 legal opinion which held that Israeli settlements are "inconsistent with international law."

On Friday, more than 100 Democratic members of Congress signed a letter criticizing the U.S. administration's policy reversal on the Israeli settlements.

The letter warned that the administration’s new policy "has undermined America’s moral standing” and made it more difficult to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

This letter "shows that the U.S. administration is isolated by taking such decision", Haniyeh said.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians insist to regain the entire West Bank along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

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