The USA has taken another step to legitimize the internationally controversial Israeli settlement policy. The agreement expands scientific cooperation in the occupied West Bank.
Israel and the US are expanding their scientific collaboration to Israeli facilities in the occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman signed an agreement on Wednesday at Ariel University in the West Bank. The move means a further legitimation of the internationally controversial Israeli settlement policy by the USA.
“Victory over all organizations and states that boycott us”
Netanyahu spoke of a “huge change” at the ceremony. The agreement is a “victory over all organizations and states that boycott us”. US Ambassador Friedman said: “We are correcting an ancient injustice and strengthening the inviolable alliance between our two countries.”
A statement from the embassy said the agreement should remove “geographic restrictions”. It will adapt three bilateral agreements to current US policy and will expand scientific, agricultural and technological cooperation.
Obstacle to peace: UN Security Council called for settlement freeze
The US had already reversed its assessment of Israeli settlement policy last year. Internationally, however, this is still highly controversial. At the end of 2016, the UN Security Council asked Israel to completely freeze settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. Settlements were identified in Resolution 2334 as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared almost a year ago that the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank was “not per se incompatible with international law” from the US point of view.
Palestinians want to establish an independent state
Israel had conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among others, during the Six Day War in 1967. Today more than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there in more than 200 settlements. The Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the area.
US President Donald Trump had already made a number of unilateral pro-Israel decisions. He recognized Israel’s claim to the occupied Golan Heights as well as Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The US moved its embassy there.