In a move that will only further buttress the Trump administration’s well-deserved claim to being the most pro-Israel American presidency since the 1948 founding of the Jewish state, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced today that it shall henceforth be the policy of the United States that Israeli “settlements” — Jews living in the biblical Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria — do not, by their very existence, violate international law.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this [a]dministration agrees with President Reagan [that] [t]he establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo said. Former top Trump administration Middle East peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt further broke down the administration’s move on Israeli television: “The right [legal] result … is that Israeli settlements are not per se illegal,” he explained.
This is a paradigm-altering and inspired decision for which the Trump administration deserves effusive praise. It is manifestly correct on the black-letter international law merits, symbolic in its courageous defiance of the sclerotic groupthink of the ubiquitously anti-Semitic “international community,” and stakes out a bold moral starting point in the longstanding fight for Judea and Samaria — which is ground zero in the fight for Western civilization itself.
In many academic, legal, and political circles the world over, it is taken as something of an unassailable given that Israeli “settlements” built over the 1967 armistice line are illegal under well-established principles of international law. In reality, nothing could be further from the case. As legal academic Eugene Kontorovich has painstakingly pressed for years and as Elliott Hamilton once argued here at The Daily Wire, it is Israel that actually has the preeminent modern-day legal claim to the biblical Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria — a.k.a the “West Bank.”
Israel’s claim is based on the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations’ 1922 Mandate for Palestine, the San Remo Conference, U.N. Charter Article 80, the Arabs’ decision to refuse the U.N.’s November 1947 partition plan in lieu of attempting to commit genocidal jihad against the Jews, and Israel’s subsequent victories in the defensive wars against invading Arab foes in both 1967 and 1973. The lands that today constitute Judea and Samaria were never, ever in their entire history part of a sovereign state called “Palestine”; on the contrary, they were merely illegally occupied by the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan between Israel’s independence in 1948 and Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six Day War of 1967. Watch Kontorovich’s fuller explication of Israel’s clearly superior legal claim to Judea and Samaria:
Yet for all its black-letter legal correctness, the Trump administration’s decision is arguably even more indispensable for its pure symbolism. In reversing Obama presidency-era legal precedent and re-asserting the Reagan presidency-era belief that Israeli “settlements” are not legally problematic, the Trump administration has flipped two delectably brazen middle fingers at one of the most deeply held shibboleths of the leftist, Jew-hating “international community.” In left-leaning legal and political science academe circles, there is perhaps no more agreed-upon “truth” than the notion that Israel is an illegal “occupier” that flagrantly tramples all over Palestinian-Arabs’ rights to sovereignty and self-determination. The Trump administration has just taken a jackhammer to that golden calf of ivory tower idolatry — and it has done so less than a week after the European Union’s anti-Semitic decision to specifically label certain Israeli products made by Jews living in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Bravo — truly.
Finally, though it would not — and, indeed, does not — admit it, the Trump administration has also just staked out a morally righteous starting point in the final political resolution of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over Judea and Samaria. Secretary Pompeo today was careful today to emphasize that the Trump administration’s legal proclamation bears no relationship to the ultimate political adjudication of Judea and Samaria’s status, and we ought to take him at his word that the administration did not intend to put its political or moral thumb on the scale. Indeed, given that the administration’s unveiling of its “Deal of the Century” peace plan is still awaiting Israel durably securing a new parliamentary coalition, perhaps it would even be politically imprudent for the administration to do so.
But, at least indirectly, it seems to have done so nonetheless. By refusing to pay lip service to demonstrably erroneous legal fictions pertaining to Israel’s allegedly illegal “occupation” in Judea and Samaria, the Trump administration has — at least inadvertently — emboldened Israel’s political negotiating position. How could Israel not feel empowered to more adamantly push its political position vis-à-vis Judea and Samaria if it knows that the world’s greatest superpower and its chief foreign aid provider does not, in fact, view its purportedly most infamous illegality as not actually being illegal? Israel should feel more secure in its pushing for increased sovereignty over the ground zero battleground between liberalized Western civilization and barbaric jihad that is Judea and Samaria.
The Trump administration has, once again, shown its unmistakable and remarkable commitment to the irreplaceable American ally that is Israel. Thank you, President Trump.