A change in United States policy concerning the nation of Israel. That's what's first today on CNN 10. I'm Carl Azuz, grateful you're spending 10 minutes of your day with us. This week the Trump Administration announced that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is not inconsistent with international law.
Here's what that means and why it's significant. Almost a tenth of Israel's population, about 700,000 Israelis live in settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. These two areas were captured by Israel in the six day war of 1967. Israel sees the West Bank as its territory so it says the settlements it builds there are legal but a number of other countries disagree.
The United Nations sees the West Bank as occupied territory, land that Israel controls but doesn't have the right to build settlements on. So there's an international dispute over the land itself and what Israel does there. Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East.
In 1978, the U.S. State Department gave a legal opinion that says Israel's settlements in the West Bank were inconsistent with international law. That was during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. The next U.S. leader, President Ronald Reagan, said the settlements were not illegal though he did call them ill advised. The Trump Administration says its policy is in line with that of Reagan in saying the settlements were not against international law.
So why does this matter? Palestinians, who see the West Bank as part of their own future country, say the U.S. is trying to replace international law with the quote "law of the jungle" and the European Union which sees Israel as an occupying power in the West Bank says it should stop all settlement activity there.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the change in U.S. policy rights a historical wrong. We don't know how or if this will impact the work to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians but the Trump Administration says it still believes that continued construction of Israeli settlements won't help that process.