Arab League to meet on US shift on Israel settlements
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Arab League to meet on US shift on Israel settlements

Arab foreign ministers answer Palestinians’ call for gathering on Washington’s decision to no longer consider Israeli building in territories ‘illegal’

Representatives of the Arab League attend an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on October 12, 2019, to discuss Turkey's offensive on Syria. (Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP)
Representatives of the Arab League attend an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on October 12, 2019, to discuss Turkey's offensive on Syria. (Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP)

The Arab League said it will hold an urgent meeting Monday on the US announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.

Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary-general, said several members had backed a Palestinian Authority call for a ministerial meeting.

The PA’s permanent representative to the Arab League has condemned Washington’s change of position — announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — as “illegal.”

Pompeo said Monday that after legal consultations, the US had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

The Cairo-based Arab League has said the US shift was an “extremely adverse development.”

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Wednesday joined the chorus of criticism of the US announcement.

View of the fields at the Psagot vineyard settlement in the West Bank near the city of Ramallah. December 13, 2012. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Riyadh underlined its “total rejection of the US statement that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

Bahrain, which has warmed to the Jewish state in recent years, also reiterated its “firm rejection” of Israeli settlements.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the construction of settlements carries serious repercussions that would hinder efforts to reach a just and comprehensive peace in the region based on a two-state solution and lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant international resolutions,” it said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a joint statement during their meeting in Jerusalem on March 20, 2019. (JIM YOUNG / POOL / AFP)

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and Russia have condemned the shift, while the European Union and United Nations stressed they still considered the settlements illegal.

The announcement was celebrated by Israel.

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