Israeli colonies built on Palestinian land occupied by Israel since the 1967 War have always been illegal.
In fact, UN Resolution 242, issued in the same year as the war, explicitly tells Israel it should withdraw from these captured territories.
The international community has continuously condemned Israel in the UN General Assembly for its continued occupation of the Palestinian people and for building its colonies on their land. This stance is clear and should not be up for debate.
US policies have always been biased in favour of Israel. But when Donald Trump became president in 2017, he pushed the envelope even further by doing away with decades of US policy that gave the appearance that the US was a neutral peace broker.
Under Trump, the US has recognised Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and has even moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. Trump also ordered US officials to defend Israel at the UN General Assembly and even go on the offensive to censure states that do not vote pro-Israel.
As a result, Palestinians have backed off from any peace negotiations, contending that the US is no longer an honest broker.
The move is significant in that it sends a very clear message, to Israel ...the US will not tolerate any unilateral annexation of the occupied West Bank, as Netanyahu has threatened before.
It is true, as Trump said this Saturday, that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House, because he is giving Israel everything that it previously lacked, and desperately wants — recognition by a major world power of its occupation.
However, US members of the House of Representatives on Friday threw their weight behind a two-state solution.
In its first-ever resolution on a West Bank annexation, the House said that a two-state solution “can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.”
The move is significant in that it sends a very clear message, to Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that despite Trump’s promises, the US will not tolerate any unilateral annexation of the occupied West Bank, as Netanyahu has threatened before.
In a step that could ease the way for annexation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the United States no longer shared the widely held international position that Israeli colonies in the West Bank are illegal.
With both Trump and Netanyahu under fire at home for alleged abuses of office, the vote further weakens their stances, and attempts to re-centre US policy vis-a-vis Israel, against more traditional positions.