2020 Democratic Candidates Say Jewish Settlements ‘Illegal,’ Slam US Reconsideration of Policy

View of Ma’aleh Adumim in Judea and Samaria on Jan. 1, 2017. Photo: Yaniv Nadav/Flash90.

JNS.org – Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates slammed the US State Department’s announcement on Monday that the United States is softening its stance on Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

It is a reversal of the 1978 State Department legal opinion, known as the Hansell Memorandum, that such neighborhoods are “inconsistent with international law.”

“Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“The Trump administration’s statement on West Bank settlements is not only a significant step backward in our efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is the latest in a pattern of destructive decisions that harm our national interests,” tweeted South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region. It’s not about peace or security,” former US Vice President Joe Biden’s spokesperson told Jewish Insider through campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates. “It is not about being pro-Israel. It is about undercutting Israel’s future in service of Trump’s personal politics.”

Bates emphasized that “Vice President Biden is and has always been a strong supporter of Israel” in that “critical to that strong support is the understanding that the best way to ensure Israel’s future security as a Jewish and democratic state is for Israelis and Palestinians to work together towards a two-state solution. That’s also the only way to achieve the legitimate rights and freedoms the Palestinian people deserve. Expanding settlement activity makes that harder. It’s an obstacle to peace. That’s something that every previous administration, both Republican and Democratic, have agreed on—until Trump.”

“Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law—they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two-state solution,” tweeted Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“The Trump administration’s announcement on Israeli settlements goes against long-standing US policy. Once again Donald Trump is playing politics and taking us further away from a path to a two-state solution,” tweeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Former US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted, “These settlements are a clear violation of international law and push us further away from a two-state solution. This is a grave error that severely damages the prospects for peace, further isolates America, & undermines our moral leadership.”

“If one believes in Israel not only being safe, but secure, the United States backed away from it today with its ill-considered statement that settlements do not violate international law,” tweeted former US Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).

“Any final-status agreement between Israeli and the Palestinians for a two-state solution cannot have America predetermining the outcome of its conditions if Palestinians is to eventually agree,” he continued. “We did that once, wrongly, with the unilateral movement of the US embassy to Jerusalem; we are now doubling down on abandoning a peaceful two-state solution.”

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