On November 18th, 2019, on behalf of President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a major change in the United States' position on illegal Israeli settlements. From the perspective of Palestinians and the Arab nations of the Levant in general, this is a monumentally terrible development.
Let's establish the basic facts.
In 1948, Israel declared its independence. They used British and American weaponry to drive out a million native Palestinian people from more than 500 of their towns and villages - towns and villages that they and their ancestors had been living in continuously for over a thousand years.
Under the 1948 UN partition plan, all of Jerusalem was to remain a shared, international city to avoid bloodshed. When the Jews acted to seize all of Jerusalem for themselves, Jordan exerted its control over east Jerusalem on behalf of the Muslim and Christian Palestinians who had been worshipping there for centuries.
It's important to understand that while the Jews did take control of part of Jerusalem, they did not get control of the eastern part of Jerusalem where the Christian and Muslim holy sites were established.
In 1967, the year that Israel killed 58 of our American sailors aboard the USS Liberty, the Israeli military invaded Egypt, Syria and Jordanian territories. Again, with the heavy support of the western colonial powers, Israel was able to make huge gains. They established a military occupation of all of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Syria's Golan Heights and Jordan's east Jerusalem.
Under international law, military occupations are to be temporary. Further, it is a major violation of international law to transfer citizens of one country into the occupied territories. Eventually, Israel released control of the Sinai back to Egypt, but they never ended their military occupation of Syria's Golan Heights territory or Jordan's east Jerusalem.
The ongoing Israeli military occupation is a violation of its own legal rulings. Shortly after Israel declared independence in 1948, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the new state of Israel accepted the rule of international law. It said that international law was to be considered binding and that the laws were to be incorporated into Israel's domestic legal system.
As a result of Israel's hostile actions toward the Palestinians in 1948-49, the international community gathered together in the Fourth Geneva Convention and issued Article 49, which states:
"The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
Since 1949, the international community has been unified in condemning Israel's illegal occupation over and over again. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly issued proclamations saying that Israel's occupation violates international law - so has the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross and even the Geneva Convention members themselves.
As recently as the Obama administration, every nation on earth was united in condemning Israel's occupation as illegal. We read in this 2008 BBC article:
"The British Government believes that Israeli settlements on occupied territory are illegal. So does every other government in the world, except for Israel." Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7708244.stm
So, it really says a lot about President Donald Trump's loyalties that he is the first leader of any nation in the world during the 71 years since Israel was founded to break away from international consensus and take the position that Israel's occupation is not illegal.
It speaks to the depth of devotion that President Trump has to Benjamin Netanyahu and to the Jewish political donors like Sheldon Adelson who have used him like a puppet to co-opt US policy and turn our nation into a vassal of Israel. It also raises questions of the president's loyalty to America itself, which has, for seven straight decades, been on the right side of this issue by condemning the illegal occupation.