(January 8, 2020 / JNS) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States is “disavowing” the 1978 Hansell Memorandum, a State Department memo that claimed Israeli settlements violate international law.
In a video statement to the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, Pompeo said, “We’re recognizing that these settlements don’t inherently violate international law. That is important. We’re disavowing the deeply flawed 1978 Hansell memo, and we’re returning to a balanced and sober Reagan-era approach.”
“In doing so, we’re advancing the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.
The statement comes after Pompeo’s declaration in November that the United States “no longer recognize Israeli settlements as per se inconsistent with international law.”
The Kohelet Forum responded in a statement to Pompeo’s remarks at the conference: “For decades, a brief and poorly reasoned memo by a State Department official had been relied upon as evidence that Israeli settlements are illegal. Now, Secretary Pompeo makes clear that the U.S. not only does not adopt the conclusions of the Carter-era memo, but entirely repudiates it as a source of legal guidance.”
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Kohelet Policy Forum, applauded the statement, saying, “American policy is now clearer than ever: Jews living in Judea and Samaria is not a crime.”
Kontorovich also said that “Pompeo’s statement at the Kohelet conference today makes clear the U.S.’s wholesale rejection of the legal theory that holds that international law restricts Israeli Jews from moving into areas from which Jordan had ethnically cleansed them in 1949.”
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