Evolution of US policy towards the settlements, 1967-2004


A talk to the FFIPP Conference, Jerusalem January 2005

by Akiva Eldar, Haaretz

The Johnson Administration

“By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas the GOI adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement…
The transfer of civilians to occupied areas.. is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention”
Cable from the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel

The Nixon Administration

“…the Geneva Convention and international law is clear: the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by the immediate needs of the occupation.”
Charles Yost, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, UN Security Council — July 1, 1969

The Ford Administration

“Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the convention… Indeed, the presence of these settlements is seen by my government as an obstacle to the success of the negotiations for a just and final peace between Israel and its neighbors.”
William Scranton, US Ambassador to the United Nations, UN Security Council — March 23, 1976

The Carter Administration

“Our position on the settlements is very clear. We do not think they are legal.”
President Carter , interview, April 1980

“Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention is, in my judgment, and has been in judgment of each of the legal advisors of the State Department for many, many years, to be. . .that [settlements] are illegal and that [the Convention] applies to the territories.”
Secretary of State Cyrus Vancebefore House Ctee. on Foreign Affairs – March 21, 1980

The Reagan Administration

“The U.S. will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements during the transition period. …a settlements freeze.., more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be .. fairly negotiated.”
Reagan Plan -September 1982

The George H.W. Bush Administration

“we do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.”
President George H.W. Bush, press conference -March 3, 1990

“…no party should take unilateral actions that seek to predetermine issues that can only be reached through negotiations. …the U. S. has opposed, and will continue to oppose, settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 …I don’t think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace.”
U.S. Secretary of State James Baker – May 22, 1991

The Clinton Administration

“unilateral actions, such as expansion of settlements, would be strongly counterproductive to the goal of a negotiated solution and could halt progress made by the peace process over the last two decades. Such a tragic result would threaten the security of Israel, the Palestinians, friendly Arab states, and undermine U.S. interests in the M.E.”
letter to Benjamin Netanyahu 14.12.1996 signed by:
James A. Baker (Former Secretary of State)
Zbigniew Brzezinski (Former N. S. C. Adviser)
Frank C. Carlucci (Former N. S. C. Adviser)
Lawrence Eagleburger (Former Sec. of State)
Richard Fairbanks (Former M. E. Peace Negotiator)
Brent Scowcroft (Former N. S. C. Advisor)
Robert Straus (Former M. E. Peace Negotiator)
Cyrus R. Vance (Former Secretary of State).

Clinton Proposal, December 2000

* Israel will annex settlement blocks from the West Bank (4%)
* Territorial swap in the ratio of 1:3 (or 3:5)

The George W. Bush Administration

“Something has to be done about the problem of the settlements, the settlements continue to grow and continue to expand. . . . It’s not going to go away.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell, NBC’s Meet the Press, May 1, 2002

“we have opposed the settlements for decades and you continue to build them and we have done nothing untoward to you [in response]. If Israel wants, it can even expand to the borders promised in the Bible. The question is whether it is able to do so from a security and political standpoint.”
Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, May 29, 2002 – Ha’aretz

“Consistent with the Mitchell Plan, Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories must stop, and the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognized boundaries, consistent with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.”
President Bush’s Rose Garden Address, April 4, 2002,

“…The GOI should freeze all settlement activity, including the “natural growth” of existing settlements. The kind of security cooperation desired by the GOI cannot for long co-exist with settlement activity described.. by the United States as “provocative.”
The Mitchell Report – April 30, 2001

Israel will evacuate immediately all outposts that were built after March 2000
Road Map, December 2002

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949”
Bush’s letter to Sharon, 14.4.04

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