1. Statement
  2. Middle East & Iran, Peacebuilding

Stop all Construction of Settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory

By Diane Randall, November 25, 2019

The Friends Committee on National Legislation repudiates the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States government regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory as legal. FCNL supports the right of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination and security in their own homeland.

For decades, FCNL has urged the United States to press for an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and to support a just and peaceful solution rooted in international law.

The ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is inextricably linked to conflict in the Middle East, and the continued growth of Israeli settlements that occupy Palestinian territory fuel this conflict.

Since 1967, American presidents have opposed the development of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The declaration by Mr. Pompeo undermines good faith efforts to achieve peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis, and reverses decades of State Department legal opinion that these settlements are “inconsistent with international law.”

Determination of what violates international law is not a unilateral political decision. International institutions, including the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and the International Committee of the Red Cross all recognize that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

People of faith who are international visitors, including Quakers, other Christians, Jews and Muslims, visiting Israel and Palestine, have witnessed what was confirmed by a 2012 UN fact-finding mission. It found “a multitude of the human rights of the Palestinians are violated in various forms and ways due to the existence of the [Israeli] settlements.” These have included violations of the rights to life, liberty, and security of the person and the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and equal treatment before the law.

Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and are deeply unhelpful to the peace process. FCNL urges Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reverse this decision and accept the international consensus that these settlements are inconsistent with Israel’s obligations under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

We also call on Congress to speak out publicly against this reversal and to insist that Israel immediately stop all construction of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Ending settlement activity is essential to keep open the door for a two-state solution that enhances stability and security in the Middle East and ensures the human rights of all people in the region.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.