Republican Presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry broke with more than 40 years of bipartisan U.S. policy and issued a statement of blanket support for Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories...
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Perry:
Since ’67, every U.S. president, Democrat and Republican, have called Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories, in the West Bank, illegal under international law. Would you continue that activity?
PERRY: …No I wouldn’t. I consider the Israeli settlements to be legal, from my perspective, and I support them.
BLITZER: Even if they’re in the West Bank?
PERRY: Where there is arrangements that have been made, where the Israeli’s are clearly on Israel’s land that they have hard fought to win and to keep, absolutely.
...Blitzer also asked if Perry would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, which is currently located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem. “Absolutely,” replied Perry. “As soon as I could. I would clearly say, if you want to work for the State Department of the United States, you need to be packing your bags and move to Jerusalem as soon as you can.”
As I pointed out, in 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright already stated the Jewish communities are legal in an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s "The Today Show" on October 1, 1997, and asked in relation to building in Yesha and said: “I wasn't happy…I felt that going forward with those kinds of buildings was not helpful. Mr. Lauer pressed her and stated: “ It's legal. “, and Albright admitted: “It's legal.”
And following that, let's note this:
WHEN SETTLERS AREN'T SETTLERS
1. State Department, September 17, 1997
The United States has been in contact with the Israeli government with regard to the Ras al-Amud housing project. The move of settlers into this project [formerly an entirely Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem] is not helpful...We don't think this is a question of law...Remember, this is about property rights, people purchasing property and then trying to build on that property, dealing with local governments, dealing with national governments. It's really an Israeli internal matter; that's precisely why I said we weren't in a position to micromanage it.
2. State Department, September 18, 1997
. . . We have been working most closely with the Israeli Government to try to get an outcome [at Ras al-Amud] as close to our view as possible. We are pleased to the extent that the settlers are out, but we hope and expect that nothing will happen in the days and weeks ahead that will have the effect of reversing the status quo.
Are they settlers to the U.S. Government? You consider them settlers? You used the word settlers. I'm giving you a chance to say whether you meant what you said.
Settlers in a housing project, yes.
You know what settlers means in Middle East vocabulary--were they settlers or are they just simply Jews moving into new homes?
Do you think it would be a good idea for you to take more or less days off?
Look, Jamie, half the press calls them settlers, and the other half doesn't.
All right. People can settle in housing projects.
Are these people settlers?
The people who are in the--we do not regard this, as you know, the word that I'm not going to use.
I'm just asking you to define your terms, because it's a tricky but very significant distinction.
I agree, and I did not use the word that would have made it a problem.
3. State Department, September 19, 1997
The Secretary, when she was in the area, talked a lot about the importance of not taking, as you said, unilateral actions that create facts on the ground. Do you consider that [the Israeli "compromise" on Ras al-Amud] putting these students now, instead of the families, creating new facts on the ground, that makes resuming the negotiations harder?
I think I've said very clearly, and I'll repeat for you, that we have received assurances that there will not be a new status quo. The character of the neighborhood will not change. Therefore, we believe that the main element, the essential element that this situation could have created, has been alleviated, if the assurances are followed through on.
So, no, we don't think that the fact that there are teams of caretakers who are not going to live there, and construction is not going to be occurring there, and the neighborhood is not going to change is the kind of significant unilateral act that we were calling for both sides to avoid.
4. ON THE NATURAL GROWTH OF SETTLEMENTS
There is some allowance for--I wouldn't use the word "expansion" but certainly continuing some activity--construction activities in existing settlements. . . . And that's basically in terms of natural growth and basic, immediate needs in those settlements. I want to get away from the word "expansion" per se.
5. Testimony by Assistant Secretary of State for Near
Eastern and South Asian Affairs Edward Djerejian on March 9, 1993 before the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
State Department, October 1, 1997
...in her Today Show interview this morning, the Secretary was asked if the settlements are legal. And she said, quote "they are legal" unquote. Was she talking about legal within the context of Israeli law? Or was she talking about international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention?
No, she was not talking about international law. Our overall position on the question of the legality of settlements remains the same. We are, of course, not taking a legal position on that overall issue. . . . The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in the interim agreement, as such, and under Oslo, that prohibits settlement activity. We do not support the settlement activity. We think it is unhelpful and counterproductive. But as a technical answer, though, the statement was technically correct.
6. State Department, October 2, 1997
. . . If Oslo does not prohibit something, does it make it legal? Is this the basis for the legality of this?
Our position has always been that we believe that settlement activity is a complicating factor in our efforts to promote a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and dispute, and that view has not changed. We think settlements are counterproductive, they are unhelpful, and that has not changed.
7. State Department, October 3, 1997
So there has not been any change in U.S. policy towards settlements since the '70s, since the Carter days?
Well, I don't want to get caught on that. I mean, all I can say is the Secretary of State in that interview was not intending to make any new statements about the grand legal judgment of the settlements in the Middle East. I think we have exhausted that completely.