But in one of his Administration's last foreign policy acts, former President Barack Obama broke with that trend, declining to veto a United Nations resolution urging an end to settlements.
In 1978, the Carter administration adopted the position that the settlements violated worldwide law.
Palestinian leaders have cut communications with the Trump administration, as they do not see the president as a neutral broker in peace negotiations with Israel. In it, the United Nations established Israel's legal right to negotiate a peace with defensible borders with existing states.
The 1978 legal opinion on settlements is known as the Hansell Memorandum. Pompeo added that "calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with worldwide law hasn't worked".
The PA under its leader Mahmoud Abbas has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, an occupying power can not move its civilian population into territory it occupies. Nearly 2 million more Palestinians live in Gaza, a 25-mile long strip administered by the militant group Hamas and subject to a 12-year-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
Now, however, given the USA support to Netanyahu's right-wing policies, doubts run high as to whether the United States administration will be able to mediate between the rival parties, bringing them to the negotiating table. He called the Trump administration's latest policy shift toward Israel "an achievement that will stand for generations".
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Monday's move again aligns the Trump administration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli hawks whose bad decisions (along with plenty of bad decisions by the Palestinians) have almost destroyed the once-promising peace process.
He welcomed Pompeo's assertion that the legality of Israeli settlements was a matter for the Israeli courts, rather than "biased global forums that pay no attention to history or facts".
A representative from the National Council of Churches, which operates on behalf of 38 Christian groups that collectively claim roughly 45 million people, told RNS via email that it "stands by its long-stated position that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are clear violations of worldwide law".
Tamar Zandberg, former head of the Meretz party, said "The settlements are an obstacle to peace. This is not a success for the State of Israel, it is a strategic danger". The Israeli legal system affords an opportunity to challenge settlement activity and assess humanitarian considerations. Israel offered 98 percent of the West Bank back right after the 1967 war, and on numerous occasions afterward.
The Zionist Organization of America "strongly praised" the announcement that "the United States no longer adheres to the Anti-Semitic Orwellian lie that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal and a breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention". The majority of settlers live in settlements the courts have judged legal.
He referred to the West Bank by its biblical name, reports The Times of Israel.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal pro-Israel advocacy group J Street, described Pompeo's announcement as "inconsistent with global law" and another gift for Netanyahu. Therefore, the U.S. Government is expressing no view on the legal status of any individual settlement.
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And it came on top of earlier EU-US clashes on the Middle East peace process. It's hard to imagine any of the other 2016 presidential hopefuls braving the massive internal opposition such a decision would provoke.
He added that "the Palestinian Presidency calls on the world to reject and condemn these remarks for being illegal and threatening worldwide peace and security". That decision, like the Carter-era policy Pompeo rejected, applied a unique rule, crafted exclusively for Israel, and masquerading as worldwide law.