Egypt said that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are “illegal and inconsistent with international law,” shortly after the United States effectively supported Israel’s right to build Jewish settlements in the occupied territory.
In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez affirmed “Egypt’s stance of abiding by the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law pertaining to the status of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal and inconsistent with international law.”
The comments came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a shift in decades-long American policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, claiming that they “are not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”
His announcement was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said it “rights a historical wrong.”
Pompeo’s comments provoked fury amongst Palestinians, with chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, accusing Washington of choosing “the law of the jungle” over international law.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Israel annexed in 1967, have long remained an obstacle to a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinians want Israel to dismantle all its settlements in the West Bank, which they hope will become part of their future Palestinian state.
The move has drawn condemnation from European and Arab officials. The European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said in a statement that the bloc’s position the Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory remains unchanged.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334,” the statement said.
Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said the policy change would have “dangerous consequences” for attempts to revive peace talks and called the settlements “a blatant violation of international law.”