U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the Trump administration determined that Israel's West Bank settlements do not violate international law, a decision he said had "increased the likelihood" of a Middle East peace settlement. Through Pompeo's words, the U.S. administration has essentially repudiated international law as a relevant conceptual framework that should serve as a basis for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel must abide by the norms of international humanitarian law (IHL) governing situations of belligerent occupation, particularly the 1907 Hague Regulations and Geneva Convention IV (GC IV). As part of its obligations, Israel is forbidden under article 49 GC IV from forcefully transferring or deporting the local population from the occupied territory, or from transferring or deporting its own population into the occupied territory. The establishment and development of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are thus in violation of IHL, and may amount to a war crime (CIHL Study, rule 156; ICC Statute, art. 8(2)(b)(viii)).
Such a prohibition has been restated by the International Court of Justice and the U.N. Security Council; it has also been the long-standing position of all U.S. administrations to uphold it.
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