The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
A letter signed by 107 House Democrats condemned the US State Department’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The letter said the announcement not only ignores international law, but also undermines America’s “moral standing’ and sends “a dangerous message” that human rights and international law, “which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply.”
Addressing Mike Pompeo, the letter said: “This announcement, following the administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem outside of a negotiated agreement; its closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, D.C. and U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem; and its halting of aid Congress appropriated to the West Bank and Gaza, has discredited the United States as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, severely damaged prospects for peace, and endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people.”
“The State Department’s unilateral reversal on the status of settlements, without any clear legal justification, therefore has offered a tacit endorsement of settlements, their expansion, and associated demolitions of Palestinian homes”, the letter proceeded.
It warned that just one day after the Department’s decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to advance a bill to annex the Jordan Valley, which would, thereof, destroy prospects for a two-state solution and lead to “a more entrenched and possibly deadlier conflict”.
“This State Department decision blatantly disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which affirms that any occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, added the House Democrats…If the U.S. unilaterally abandons international and human rights law, we can only expect a more chaotic and brutal twenty-first century for Americans and our allies”.
The signers strongly urged the Trump administration to reverse this policy decision immediately.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration of President Donald Trump will no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the US announcement "rights a historical wrong".
More than 600,000 Israelis currently live in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Some three million Palestinians live there.