Palestinians slam Pompeo over pro-settlement efforts

A handout photo made available by Israeli Government Press Office of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a meeting in Jerusalem, Friday, October 18, 2019. Photo by: Amos Ben Gershon-GPO Via JINIPIX

RIYADH (RAHNUMA): Palestinian officials have downplayed the effectiveness of a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his recent visit to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The statement included a move to allow products made in the occupied territories to be labeled “Made in Israel,” a clear contradiction to recent UN Security Council resolutions and efforts by the EU to reject such labeling.

Nasser Al-Kiddwa, former Palestinian envoy to the UN, told Arab News that the US efforts are “dangerous,” despite being ineffective.

“This is a dangerous move even though it will not have much of an effect and is reversible,” he said.

In harsh comments, Al-Kiddwa said that, while President Donald Trump’s administration is keen to help Israelis and settlers, the country’s efforts constitute helping Israel “commit a war crime.”

“While the Trump team wants to support settlements and settlers, their action makes the US an accomplice in a war crime,” he said.

Al-Kiddwa said the Pompeo statement violates UN Council Resolution 2334, which calls for differentiating between the West Bank and Israel. He said it was also a clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Jamal Dajani, a lecturer at San Francisco State university, said the Trump administration is not “recognizing the reality on the ground,” but rather creating its own fictitious reality by implementing Benjamin Netanyahu’s settler-colonial vision.

Dajani, who previously served as director of strategic communications and media in the Palestinian prime minister’s office, said the “true reality on the ground” is that Area C in the West Bank is an internationally recognized occupied territory. He added that the presence of Israeli colonial settlements in the region is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Al-Kiddwa, who is a member of the Fatah Central Committee, told Arab News that the US action will not alter the international consensus. “This is a biased administration that does not care about international law or the future of the region.”

He called on the newly elected administration in the US to reverse the decision.

“As a world citizen, I believe that the new administration must reverse all the decisions that were carried out without coordination with the US Congress, which are in clear violation of the way things are carried out,” he said.

Wadie Abunassar, a Haifa-based political analyst and the director of the International Centre for Consultations, told Arab News that the Trump administration has ignored the more than 7 million Palestinians to the west of the Jordan River.

“This administration repeatedly damaged US chances to be perceived as an honest broker by the vast majority of Middle East residents. The US would do well by respecting international law and encouraging Israel to do so.”

Senior Palestinian officials contacted by Arab News said that the gifts being bestowed on the Netanyahu government will not change anything on the ground.

“Trump and Pompeo are playing in lost time and their actions will not change anything regarding the occupied territories.”

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