The UN human rights office reaffirmed its long-standing position on Tuesday that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are in breach of international law, thereby rejecting the Trump administration’s revised position.
The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank by abandoning its four-decade-old position that they were “inconsistent with international law.”
“A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the (UN) Security Council,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva news briefing.
Until now, US policy was based, at least in theory, on a legal opinion issued by the State Department in 1978, which said that establishing of settlements in the Palestinian territories went against international law.
The Fourth Geneva Convention on the laws of war explicitly forbids moving civilians into occupied territories.
While the United States has generally vetoed Security Council measures critical of Israel, previous president Barack Obama, exasperated with Netanyahu, in his final weeks in office allowed the passage of Resolution 2334 that called Israel’s settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law.