J Street Welcomes Resetting American Policy on Settlements: ‘Inconsistent with International Law’

February 23, 2024

J Street welcomes Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s clear statement today that “new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace,” are “inconsistent with international law” and expansion “only weakens, doesn’t strengthen” Israel’s security.

This move marks an explicit rejection of the Trump-era ‘Pompeo Doctrine’ – restoring US acknowledgment that settlement construction on occupied territory is a violation of international law.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said, “J Street called on candidate Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign to reverse the Trump Administration’s permissive view of settlements, which overturned decades of bipartisan American policy. This has been a clear, consistent request by J Street over the last three years, and we welcome the Secretary’s remarks today.”

“Now, the administration must make clear that, particularly in light of the volatility of the current situation between Israelis and Palestinians, there must be no further expansion of the settlement enterprise. The United States government should take further steps to enforce its view – and the view of the international community – that the creeping annexation of the West Bank must stop, including through use of the Executive Order issued by President Biden on February 1.”

The Secretary’s comments follow a provocative announcement yesterday by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of plans to advance over 3,000 settlement units as part of “deepening our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel.”

Minister Smotrich’s settlement announcement is particularly insulting at a moment when the White House continues to provide the Netanyahu government with unprecedented security assistance and diplomatic support, including at both the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice in the past week alone.

As the Biden Administration struggles to prevent further regional escalation, deter attacks and press for calm on the West Bank, settlement expansion and the failure to rein in settler violence only makes their job harder, putting both Israelis and Palestinians at greater risk.

As President Biden doggedly seeks to broker an agreement to release hostages, end the fighting in Gaza, and pave the way for an end to the broader conflict, it is imperative that the Netanyahu government not take steps which undermine those goals.

We reiterate our call for the administration to demonstrate its commitment to making irreversible progress toward a two-state solution by advancing a bold, diplomatic initiative to end the conflict which includes a pathway to US recognition of a viable, contiguous, demilitarized Palestinian state alongside Israel. Continued settlement expansion is designed to frustrate that goal – and as Secretary Blinken has made clear: It violates international law.