Blinken Says New Israeli Settlements in West Bank Are Illegal, Reversing a Trump Policy

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Friday that the American government now considers new Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories to be “inconsistent with international law,” marking a reversal of a policy set under the Trump administration and a return to a decades-long U.S. position on the contentious subject.

Mr. Blinken spoke at a news conference in Buenos Aires, after Israel’s finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, made an announcement on Thursday indicating thousands of new residences would be added to settlements. Mr. Blinken said he was “disappointed” at the announcement.

“It’s been longstanding U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administrations alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching enduring peace,” he said. “They’re inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion. And in our judgment, this only weakens — it doesn’t strengthen — Israel’s security.”

Mr. Blinken was in Argentina for meetings with the recently elected president, Javier Milei, and the foreign minister, Diana Mondino.

In Washington, John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, reiterated that stance in comments to reporters. “This is a position that has been consistent over a range of Republican and Democratic administrations — if there’s an administration that is being inconsistent, it was the previous one,” he said.

State Department officials declined to say what actions, if any, the United States might take to hold Israeli settlers or the government legally accountable for the building of new settlements.

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