Opposition to the Trump Administration’s Reversal of US Policy on Settlements

Statements from presidential candidates & lawmakers

Presidential Candidates

Vice President Joe Biden: “This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region. It’s not about peace or security. It is not about being pro-Israel. It is about undercutting Israel’s future in service of Trump’s personal politics.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “The Trump administration’s statement on West Bank settlements is not only a significant step backward in our efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is the latest in a pattern of destructive decisions that harm our national interests.”

Secretary Julian Castro: “These settlements are a clear violation of international law and push us further away from a two-state solution. This is a grave error that severely damages the prospects for peace, further isolates America, & undermines our moral leadership.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “The Trump administration’s announcement on Israeli settlements goes against long-standing U.S. policy.  Once again Donald Trump is playing politics and taking us further away from a path to a two-state solution.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

Adm. Joe Sestak: “If one believes in Israel not only being safe, but secure, the United States backed away from it today with its ill-considered statement that settlements do not violate international law.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law—they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two state solution.”

Marianne Williamson: Trump administration’s decision to legitimize West Bank settlements is bad for the Palestinians, bad for Israel & bad for the world. America’s main ally should be humanity itself: the only way to demonstrate that re Israel-Palestinian politics is to stand for a 2 state solution.

Members of Congress

106 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo condemning the decision: “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…”

Reps. David Price, Jan Schakowsky, John Yarmuth, Gerry Connolly, Barbara Lee, Peter Welch, Alan Lowenthal, Lloyd Doggett and Earl Blumenauer: “Secretary Pompeo’s statement today singlehandedly unravels decades of U.S. policy and ignores international law by effectively legalizing Israeli settlements in occupied territories.  This announcement, when coupled with recent decisions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem apart from any resolution of outstanding issues, to close the Palestinian office in Washington, D.C., to shut down the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, and to cut assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, illustrates that the Trump administration is dead set on destroying any sliver of hope remaining for peace and security in the Middle East. It’s clear the Administration has no plan to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in good faith. Most importantly, this decision undermines the safety of both Israelis and Palestinians and undercuts any prospect for a two-state solution. This flagrant disregard for the U.S. role as an honest broker in this conflict further undercuts both U.S. leadership and credibility, and it must be reversed.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer: “Trump’s decision to stop treating Israel’s West Bank settlements as a violation of international law is as dangerous as it is wrong.”

Sen. Chris Coons: “This announcement on Israeli settlements breaks with decades of U.S. foreign policy, further undermines our ability to play a constructive role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and makes the possibility of a two-state solution even more remote.”

Rep. Deb Haaland: This abrupt reversal of bipartisan US policy greatly harms any prospect for a lasting, peaceful resolution to this conflict. Trump’s reckless foreign policy continues to threaten stability in the region.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “Our government should be promoting peace and respect for all human dignity around the world. Israel’s West Bank settlements demolish entire Palestinian villages, needlessly harming children and families and drastically setting back the goal of a peaceful two-state solution. For the Trump Administration to signal its approval of Israel’s violation of human rights and international law is an abject failure of leadership—one that sends a dangerous message to other world leaders. President Trump’s action today reverses decades of bipartisan U.S. policy on Israel and the occupied territory. The time is now for Congress to take up and pass House Resolution 326 to make clear our support for a two-state solution, as well as our opposition to settlement expansion and any steps toward formal annexation of the West Bank.”

Rep. Ro Khanna: “Empowering Israeli courts to view their decisions as superior to international law isn’t going to bring peace in our lifetime. Pompeo’s decision would completely undermine a two state solution. The US should view any new settlements as illegal under international law.”

Rep. Betty McCollum: “By legitimizing illegal Israeli settlements, the Trump admin paves the way for the annexation of Palestinian lands, kills a two-state solution, and ensures Israel’s permanent military occupation of the West Bank. This is Pres. Trump’s ‘anti-peace process.’”

Sen. Jeff Merkley: “This is a huge mistake. Condoning West Bank settlements represents an existential threat to a two-state solution & to peace. I urge Senators to join my resolution reaffirming commitment to a two-state solution as U.S. policy & the best path for a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

Rep Gwen Moore: “I’m troubled by this decision, which moves the U.S. further away from being seen as an honest broker, creates more barriers to achieving a two-state solution and turns decades of U.S. foreign policy on its head.”

Rep. Seth Moulton: “Permanent Israeli settlements are a direct threat to the possibility of a lasting, two-state peace plan. The Administration’s decision to change America’s position on the legitimacy of settlements in the West Bank cements a radical shift in U.S. policy that has occurred over the last three years, and forfeits any credibility that remained with the Palestinians that will be required to broker a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…”

Sen. Chris Murphy: “This is a monumentally bad decision that could obliterate the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace. And it puts Israel further down a path that has a terrible choice at the end – become a non-Jewish state or become a permanent apartheid state.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar“Israeli settlements violate intl law, decades of U.S. foreign policy, and the human rights of Palestinians. All who believe in the possibility of peace must speak up in this moment. ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’”

Rep. Mark Pocan: “Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. This has been US bipartisan policy for decades & the international community agrees. The Trump admin’s step backwards threatens stability in the Middle East endangering Palestinian & Israeli lives. This move is just the most recent reason why we need to pass House Resolution 326 now–opposing the expansion of settlements, reaffirming support for a two-state solution,  and opposing the annexation of the West Bank.”

Rep. Adam Smith: “The decision by Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration is misguided and paves the way for further Israeli settlement expansion. Continuing down the path of expanded settlements undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and makes a two-state solution even more difficult. Without durable states for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, the region will continue to face the violence and instability it has suffered for generations. This is just the latest in a series of actions by the Trump Administration that have damaged U.S. credibility in pushing for a comprehensive peace agreement. The U.S. should focus on taking actions that safeguard Israel’s security, enhance stability in the region, and advance the prospects for a two-state solution. This decision runs counter to those objectives.”

Sen. Tom Udall: “I have been saddened and alarmed by the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel. Instead of working to reduce violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Pompeo’s announcement today casts aside decades of bipartisan American foreign policy at a time when we should be working to lower dangerously high tensions in a volatile region, not adding more fuel to the fire. The United States government—as well as the global community—has long regarded Israeli settlements as illegal under international law, and as such these settlements have long been regarded by experts as a major roadblock to a peace deal and the two-state solution. In light of this president’s reckless decision to once again abandon longstanding foreign policy, Congress should reaffirm support for a settlement freeze in order to preserve any hope of a peace deal. Negotiation—not unilateral action—remains central to Israel’s long-term security and the viability of any future state for the Palestinian people.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen: “Trump’s decision to legitimize West Bank settlements is his latest attempt to kill a two-state solution. That would end the Zionist project of a Jewish democratic state, leaving Israel to choose between one state with equal-rights-for-all or apartheid.”

Sen. Mark Warner: “The Trump administration’s decision to reverse longstanding U.S. policy and unilaterally legitimize Israeli settlements in the West Bank serves no strategic purpose except to further undermine the chances for a lasting and peaceful two-state solution.”

J Street's View

Read our statement on the administration's reversal of decades of bipartisan policy on Israeli settlements.