By MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce on Monday that the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.
Pompeo plans to repudiate a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” The move will likely anger Palestinians and put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.
The Trump administration views the opinion, the basis for long-standing U.S. opposition to expanding the settlements, as a distraction and believes any legal questions about the issue should be addressed by Israeli courts, according to a draft of Pompeo’s remarks on the policy obtained by The Associated Press.
“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo says in the draft. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
U.S. administration moves that have weakened Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood have included President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the movement of the U.S. Embassy to that city and the…