Palestine slams Pompeo’s reported decision to visit Israeli settlement

Palestinian officials slammed on Friday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s reported decision to visit Israeli settlement in the West Bank, calling the planned visit “a challenge to the international consensus.”

“The visit will be a challenge to the positions of all previous U.S. administrations that emphasized the illegality of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” said Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh in a press statement.

Israeli media earlier reported that Pompeo would make an exceptional visit to a winery at Psagot settlement in the West Bank and the contested Golan Heights during a visit to Israel next week.

“The visit is dangerous and violates international law and the United Nations resolutions,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye during a meeting in Ramallah with Ekaterina Zaharieva, Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister for judicial reform and minister of foreign affairs.

Such a visit to a settlement built on lands belonging to Palestinian owners “represents the legitimization of settlements and a blow to international legitimacy,” Ishtaye added.

Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, and has since built dozens of settlements on the occupied territories, all regarded by the Palestinians as illegal.

In 2019, Pompeo announced that Washington no longer considered Israeli settlements built on the Palestinian territories as inconsistent with international law, in remarks immediately rejected by the Palestinians.

The Palestinians want to establish an independent state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital by way of peace talks with the Jewish state.

The last round of peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, sponsored by the United States, broke down in 2014 because of their deep divisions on issues related to Israeli settlements and the Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinian Authority severed its diplomatic ties with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump after he declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.