In November 2019, the U.S. announced a reversal of its opinion regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 1978, the State Department issued a legal opinion that found Israeli settlements in the disputed territory to be in violation of international law. According to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States’ reconsideration of its position comes after a “legal review” of that opinion. Secretary Pompeo did assert that this announcement does not constitute an endorsement of settlements in the West Bank, nor does it indicate an official U.S. position regarding Israel’s sovereignty over the land. Rather, the United States’ official position is that it will leave the task of deciding the legality of specific settlements to the Israeli court system.
Critics of the recent announcement, and of Israeli settlements more broadly, say that the settlements undermine the ongoing peace process and raise the risk of ongoing conflict and violence in the area.