Stephen Daisley Stephen Daisley

Trump is right about West Bank settlements – but it won’t help Israel

In the dying days of Bush’s America, when the culture war was a light skirmish over gays getting hitched in Massachusetts, ABC aired a primetime drama called Brothers and Sisters. Sally Field was the liberal matriarch of a glossy family divided by politics but united by the struggles of being rich, white and trapped in a soapy remake of the West Wing. It was simpering. It was derivative. It was camp-as-all-get-out. I never missed a single episode.

In one episode, Calista Flockhart, who played an Ann Coulterish talking-head, returns home from flaming a Democrat on TV and is greeted by her lefty Uncle Saul: ‘Great show last night. As usual, you were right about Israel and wrong about everything else.’ That’s how I feel about the Trump administration: it’s horrific on everything that doesn’t involve the words ‘the only true democracy in the Middle East’.

Trump has come through for Israel yet again – something, in the interests of full disclosure, I repeatedly warned he wouldn’t. Following a year-long legal review, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States government does not consider Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (the so-called ‘West Bank’) to be illegal. Pompeo remarked:

‘After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.’

Anyone wishing to gauge the wisdom of this decision need only look at who has lined up to condemn it: Jeremy Corbyn, the New Israel Fund, and the EU. Much of the hysteria centres on the misconception that Pompeo reversed long-standing US policy.

But while the Carter administration adopted the position that settlements were illegal in 1978, this was reversed by Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in