Biden, to Appease Palestinians, Reverses Trump Policy on Legality of Settlements

President Joe Biden attempted to appease Palestinians Friday by reversing a Donald Trump-era policy Friday that declared the presence of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) to be legal under international law.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has taken an increasingly hostile tone toward Israel, declared that settlements were “”inconsistent with international law,” reverting to a policy adopted by Barack Obama during the lame-duck weeks of his administration in 2016.

Trump reversed the Obama policy in 2019.

The decision was likely taken to appease domestic constituencies, including Muslim- and Arab-American voters in swing states like Michigan, who have been unhappy with the Biden administration’s (increasingly doubtful) support for Israel against Hamas.

However it also serves as a reward for Hamas terrorists, who can now claim that by launching a terror attack on October 7 that murdered 1200 people in Israel, and by seizing nearly 250 hostages, it has reversed U.S. support for Israel in Judea and Samaria.

Critics blasted both the substance of the decision and its timing. Republican Jewish Coalition CEO Matt Brooks said:

Today, the Biden administration added yet another lowlight to its campaign of undermining Israel by overturning the Trump-Pompeo Doctrine, which recognized that according to international law, Israelis have a right to live in Judea and Samaria, which are rightfully part of the Jewish homeland. Labeling these communities as illegal affirms the BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement’s anti-Israel premises. The communities at issue, located west of the West Bank security barrier, are not preventing peace – Palestinian terrorism is.
In the aftermath of the horrific October 7th massacre – when America’s leaders should live up to our proud history of standing with Israel against its deadly enemies – the Biden administration has: shamefully sanctioned Israelis by a first-of-its-kind executive order; pressured Israel to recognize a Palestinian state, which would reward Hamas’ barbarism; and said that Israel’s response to Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been “over the top”, even though – according to John Spencer, the chair of urban warfare studies at West Point – the Jewish state has done more to prevent civilian casualties than any military in history.
Joe Biden’s Middle East policy doctrine has been exposed: undermining the Jewish state while it is at war, and sending signals that will embolden our shared enemies.

The Biden administration has also begun sanctioning Israelis it says are implicated in “settler violence.” The phenomenon is largely contrived, and dwarfed by Palestinian violence against Israelis. The sanctions are a gift to anti-Israel extremists, in that the language of the sanctions is broad enough for the administration to apply sanctions to a wide swath of Israeli society.

One major problem with the Biden policy is that Palestinians consider eastern Jerusalem — including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, where Jews have lived for millennia — to be an Israeli “settlement” and illegal under international law. Israel captured that area from Jordan in 1967, after Jordan attacked Israel despite pleas for peace. Jordan occupied the area from 1948 to 1967 after expelling the Jewish residents and destroying the Jewish Quarter.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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