Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, in a letter to 106 House Democrats who oppose the Trump administration's decision to soften its stance on the legality of West Bank settlements, said their arguments are "foolish."
Pompeo sent his posting to Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., in response to a letter he and other Democrats had sent to complain his announcement last month contradicted decades of bipartisan policy and "blatantly disregards Artice 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention," reports The Jerusalem Post.
"While I appreciate your interest in this important issue, I couldn't disagree more with those two foolish positions," Pompeo wrote to Levin, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Democrats are "free to fixate on settlements as a barrier to peace," but they are mistaken, Pompeo said.
In their November letter, Democrats urged Pompeo to "immediately" reverse his decision on the settlements. Twelve committee chairs, including Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., along with other high-profile lawmakers like Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., all signed the letter.
"The State Department's determination did not reverse any policy with regard to Israeli settlements," Pompeo added in his letter. "Rather, the State Department reversed a legal determination by Secretary [John] Kerry made during the waning days of the Obama administration, that the establishment of settlements was categorically inconsistent with international law."
The determination, he added, was part of a "failed attempt" to "justify the Obama administration's betrayal of Israel in allowing UNSCR 2334 – whose foundation was the purported illegality of the settlements and which referred to them as 'a flagrant violation of international law' – to pass the Security Council on December 23, 2016," Pompeo's letter stated.
Pompeo also noted, Kerry's determination did not enjoy bipartisan support, but was instead widely condemned.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he supports Pompeo's letter because the "administration's decision, in reversing Secretary Kerry's unfortunate statement in support of UNSCR 2334, restores the United States to its historic and appropriate role in mediating the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."
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