EU disagrees with US over legality of Israeli settlements

EU foreign policy chief says European bloc considers all settlement activity illegal under international law hours after US Secretary of State’s claim that Washington no longer considers them to be illegal.

BRUSSELS - The EU on Monday condemned Israel's policy of building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, just hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington no longer considers them to be illegal.

"The European Union's position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The Israeli settlement policy "erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace," she added.

Earlier Pompeo said, "After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, the United States has concluded that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law."

That statement puts the United States at odds with the EU and virtually all countries and UN Security Council resolutions.

"The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power," Mogherini said in a statement that made no mention of the US policy shift.

Pompeo is due in Brussels on Wednesday for talks with his counterparts in NATO.