Statements on American Policy toward Settlements by U.S. Government Officials – 1968-2009

June 8, 2009 Matt Skarzynski, Jonathan H. van Melle, Foundation for Middle East Peace, and Holly Byker, Churches for Middle East Peace

Introduction

The policy of all Israeli governments since 1967 of settling Israeli citizens in the territories Israel occupied in the 1967 war is regarded by most governments as a violation of international law defined by the “Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.”  In 2004, the International Court of Justice confirmed this in an advisory opinion.  The United States supported the applicability of the Geneva Convention and the unlawful character of settlements until February 1981 when President Ronald Reagan disavowed this policy by asserting that settlements are “not illegal.”  President Reagan’s policy has been sustained, implicitly, by subsequent U.S. administrations, all of whom have declined to address the legal issue, although they have all opposed, with varying emphasis, settlements or settlement expansion.  However, on April 14, 2004, President George W. Bush, in a further retreat from past policy, told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations 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…” 

Following is a chronology of statements by U.S. officials through mid-2006, beginning with the Johnson administration.  It was prepared by Matt Skarzynski, an intern with the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Holly Byker, a former staff member of Churches for Middle East Peace.

The Johnson Administration

April 8, 1968

“Although we have expressed our views to the Foreign Ministry and are confident there can be little doubt among GOI leaders as to our continuing opposition to any Israeli settlements in the occupied areas, we believe it would be timely and useful for the Embassy to restate in strongest terms the US position on this question.

You should refer to Prime Minister Eshkol's Knesset statement and our awareness of internal Israeli pressures for settling civilians in occupied areas. The GOI is aware of our continuing concern that nothing be done in the occupied areas which might prejudice the search for a peace settlement. 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. Further, the transfer of civilians to occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

Foreign Relations 1964-1968, Volume XX, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968. Document 137. Airgram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel

State Department Website,  http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xx/2667.htm, September 07, 2006

September 10, 1968

Israel's settlement program was in its infancy during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Shortly before leaving office, Johnson declared,

"Arab governments must convince Israel and the world community that they have abandoned the idea of destroying Israel. But equally, Israel must persuade its Arab neighbors and the world community that Israel has no expansionist designs on their territory."

Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States, September 10, 1968
The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006

The Nixon Administration

July 1, 1969

The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in [Jerusalem]. The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power. Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interests, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property. The pattern of behavior authorized under 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. I regret to say that the actions of Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem present a different picture, one which gives rise to understandable concern that the eventual disposition of East Jerusalem may be prejudiced, and that the private rights and activities of the population are already being affected and altered.

"My Government regrets and deplores this pattern of activity, and it has so informed the Government of Israel on numerous occasions since June 1967. We have consistently refused to recognize those measures as having anything but a provisional character and do not accept them as affecting the ultimate status of Jerusalem. . . ."

Charles Yost, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, UN Security Council, July 1, 1969

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006

June 09, 1971

"As a matter of policy, we do not provide assistance to the Israeli Government for projects in the occupied territories.

"On the general question of constructing housing and other permanent civilian facilities in the occupied zone, including Jerusalem, our policy is to call for strict observance of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a party. This Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own population into occupied territory. We interpret this to include undertaking construction of permanent facilities which have the intent of facilitating transfer of Israeli population into the occupied territories."

Department of State spokesperson, Press conference, June 9, 1971

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006

September 1971

"We regret Israel's failure to acknowledge its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as its actions which are contrary to the letter and the spirit of this convention."

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations George Bush, UN Security Council debate on Resolution 298, September 1971

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006

April 1973

"Israel, as occupant of the territories seized during the fighting in 1967, is bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention--that for the protection of civilians--but Israel refuses to apply the convention."

The State Department's deputy legal adviser, George H. Aldrich, April 1973

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006

The Ford Administration

July 28, 1977

This matter of settlements in the occupied territories has always been characterized by our Government, by me and my predecessors as an illegal action.


March 23, 1976


“Clearly, then, substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the [Geneva] Convention and cannot be considered to have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties on the location of the borders of States of the Middle East. 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.”
President Gerald Ford’s UN envoy William Scranton, March 23, 1976

Lukacs, Yehuda, ed. Documents on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1967-1983. Cambridge, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Department of State Bulletin v. 74, no. 1921 April 29, 1976 p. 528
Or, available online at,
Foundation for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.fmep.org/reports/special_reports/no13-summer2006/06-US_policy_on_jerusalem.html, September 11, 2006

 

The Carter Administration 


July 28, 1977
 
"This matter of settlements in the occupied territories has always been characterized by our Government, by me and my predecessors as an illegal action."
President Jimmy Carter, News conference, July 28, 1977, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=7878&st=illegal&st1=.


July 29, 1977

"And I let Mr. Begin know very clearly that our Government policy, before I became President and now, is that these settlements are illegal and contravene the Geneva conference terms.

Mr. Begin disagrees with this. But we've spelled this out very clearly on several occasions in the United Nations and other places that these settlements are illegal."

President Jimmy Carter, Interview With the President Q&A Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=7898&st=illegal&st1=.


Augustus 23, 1977

Q: Mr. President, twice in recent weeks the United States has said that Israel is in violation of international law in terms of the West Bank settlements, which some view as an annexation plan. My question is: What does the United States plan to do to protect the rights of the people in the occupied lands?"

A: "Well, it's been the position of our own Government, long before I was elected President, that the West Bank territory, the Gaza Strip, areas of the Golan Heights, Sinai region the occupied territories, in other words, were not a part of Israel. Our Government has expressed on several occasions---the President, our Ambassadors to the United Nations and otherwise--that the settlement of Israeli citizens in some of these areas was in violation of the Geneva Convention and that, therefore, the settlements were illegal.

We have private assurances and there have been public statements made by Mr. Begin that these settlements were not intended to show that Israel was to occupy these territories permanently, that the final boundaries to be established through mutual agreement between Israel and the Arab countries was to be decided without prior commitment, and negotiations would include these areas.

So, at this time, our pointing out to Israel that these three settlements that were just established are illegal because they were made on occupied territory, is the extent of our intention.

I concur with the statement that was made by Secretary Vance, the State Department, that this kind of action on the part of Israel, when we are trying to put together a Middle Eastern conference leading to a permanent peace, creates an unnecessary obstacle to peace. I believe that our opinion is shared by the overwhelming number of nations in the world, but we don't intend to go further than our caution to Israel, our open expression of our own concern, and the identification of these settlements as being illegal."

President Jimmy Carter,  The President's News Conference, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=7987&st=illegal&st1=


January 30, 1978

"...Our position on settlements in the occupied territory has been that they are illegal, that they are an obstacle to peace."

President Jimmy Carter, News Conference, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29872&st=illegal&st1=.


April 21, 1978

“On the basis of the available information, the civilian settlements in the territories occupied by Israel do not appear to be consistent with these limits on Israel’s authority as belligerent occupant in that they do not seem intended to be of limited duration or established to provide orderly government of the territories and, though some may serve incidental security purposes, they do not appear to be required to meet military needs during the occupation.”

“2. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949, 6 UST 3516, provides, in paragraph 6:

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

… The language and history of the provision lead to the conclusion that transfers of a belligerent occupant’s civilian population into occupied territory are broadly proscribed as beyond the scope of interim military administration.”

“The Israeli civilian settlements thus appear to constitute a “transfer of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies…”

“While Israel may undertake, in the occupied territories, actions necessary to meet its military needs and to provide for orderly government during the occupation, for the reasons indicated above the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law.”

Statement of Herbert J. Hansell, Legal Adviser, Department of State, Concerning Legality of Settlements in the Occupied Territories, April 21, 1978

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

“The Hansell Letter” Department of State legal opinion on settlements, April 21, 1978 (submitted to House Committee on Foreign Affairs in response to an inquiry regarding the U.S. vote on UNSCR 465 [1980] pp. 88-93)

Or, available online at, Foundation for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.fmep.org/reports/special_reports/no11-march2002/02-carter_administration_view.html, September 19, 2006


October 10, 1978

"The role of our Government—our position has always been that the settlements in occupied territory are illegal and are an obstacle to peace."

President Jimmy Carter, News Conference, The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29963&st=illegal&st1=.


December 17, 1978

"I think this is clearly covered by the provisions of the Geneva IV Convention which deals with the question of the establishment of settlements in occupied territory. We have examined this on a number of occasions and have had, through many Administrations, several administrations, a clear legal view that the establishment of the settlements is illegal."

Secretary of State Cyrus Roberts Vance, interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1977-1979/224%20Interview%20with%20Secretary%20Vance%20on%20NBC%20Televisi


March 1, 1980

"...We regard settlements in the occupied  territories as illegal under international law, and we consider them to be an obstacle to the successful outcome to the current negotiations which are aimed at a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East..."

 

U.S. UN Ambassador Donald F. McHenry, after voting on UNSCR 465, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950340-2,00.html

 

 

March 3, 1980

 

"...While our opposition to the establishment of the Israeli settlements is longstanding and well-known, we made strenuous efforts to eliminate the language with reference to the dismantling of settlements in the resolution. This call for dismantling was neither proper nor practical. We believe that the future disposition of existing settlements must be determined during the current Autonomy Negotiations..."

 

President Jimmy Carter, explaining U.S.'s vote for the Security Council Resolution on the Occupied Territories, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=33094&st=settlement&st1=

 

 

March 21, 1980

 
"U.S. Policy toward the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is unequivocal and has long been a matter of public record. We consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion of the Middle East peace process…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 Roberts Vance before House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 21, 1980

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Resolution of Inquiry Concerning the U.S. Vote in the United Nations Security Council on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories. Hearings, 96th Congress, 2nd Session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1980 p. 48

Or, available online at, Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


April 12, 1980

“… Our position on the settlements is very clear.  We do not think they are legal, and they are obviously an impediment to peace.  The Israeli Government, however, feels that they have a right to those settlements….”

President Jimmy Carter, Q & A session Washington D.C., April 12, 1980

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Presidential Papers: Jimmy Carter, 1980, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1981 p. 680

Or, available online at, Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

June 13, 1980

“We consider these settlements to be contrary to the Geneva Convention, that occupied territories should not be changed by the establishment of permanent settlements by the occupying power….”

President Jimmy Carter, Q & A with representatives of the American Jewish Press Association, June 13, 1980

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.Presidential Papers: Jimmy Carter, 1980, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1982 p. 1114


The Reagan Administration

February 02, 1981

"… As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there—I disagreed when, the previous Administration refereed to them as illegal, they’re not illegal.  Not under the U.N. resolution that leaves the West Bank open to all people—Arab and Israeli alike, Christian alike.

I do think perhaps now with this rush to do it and this moving in there the way they are is ill-advised because if we’re going to continue with the spirit of Camp David to try and arrive at a peace, maybe this, at this time, is unnecessarily provocative."

President Ronald Reagan’s statements in an interview with the New York Times, February 02, 1981

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1981 Document #295, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1984 pp. 681-2

Or, available online at, Foundation for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html,

 

September 1982

". . . the question isn't whether they [settlements] are legal or illegal; the question is are they constructive in the effort to arrange a situation that may, in the end, be a peaceful one and be one in which the people of the region can live in a manner that they prefer.  [President Reagan's] answer to that is no, expansion of those settlements is not a constructive move."

Secretary of State George Shultz, news conference following President Reagan’s statement on the PLO departure plan, September 05, 1982

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Department of State Bulletin v. 82, no. 2066 September 1982 p. 10

Or, available online at, Foundation for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html.


September 1982

“The United States will not support the use of any additional land for the purpose of settlements during the transition period.  Indeed, the immediate adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, 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 fee and fairly negotiated.”

Reagan Plan, September 01, 1982

Lukacs, Yehuda, ed. Documents on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1967-1983. Cambridge, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Or, available online at, Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

September 10, 1982

“The status of Israeli settlements must be determined in the course of the final status negotiations.  We will not support their continuation as extraterritorial outposts, but neither will we support efforts to deny Jews the opportunity to live in the West Bank and Gaza under the duly constituted governmental authority there, as Arabs live in Israel...”

Statement by Secretary of State George P. Shultz to the Foreign Affairs Committee (House of Representatives), September 10, 1982

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Department of State Bulletin v.82, no.2067 October 1982 p. 6

 

March 18, 1983

“Q. You know there are a lot of Middle Eastern experts, or so called, who believe that unless you put certain pressures on Israel, there will be no moratorium on the building of settlements in the West Bank.  How do you feel about that?

A. Well, the West Bank—there certainly is no illegality to the building—that bases on the Camp David agreement and the period of discussion that was supposed to then take place, with no one having a claim for or against doing such things…”

President Reagan, interview with Brandon of the London Sunday Times March 18, 1983

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Presidential Papers: Ronald Reagan, 1983, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1984 p. 418

 

August 02, 1983

“We also share the view expressed in the draft resolution that the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 are applicable to the territories occupied by Israel.  The United States Government has stated this position on numerous occasions, and I affirm it again today.  Israel, as the occupying power in the West Bank, is bound by the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Mr. President, the draft resolution contains elements which are unacceptable to the United States, and we therefore, were obliged to vote against it.  Let me make clear, however, that we did not vote against the draft because we approve of Israel’s settlement policy.  On the contrary, as President Reagan said on September 1, 1982: “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 freely and fairly negotiated."...

Statement by Ambassador Charles M. Lichenstein, Deputy United States Representative to the United Nations Security Council, August 02, 1983

Thorpe, Merle Jr., Prescription for Conflict: Israel’s West Bank Settlement Policy. (Foundation for Middle East Peace: Washington D.C., 1984) (Out of Print).


October 27, 1983

“… We don not, for example, agree on the settlement policy of Israel.  Our objection is not legal but practical….”

Deputy Secretary of State Dam, before the American Jewish Committee, Philadelphia, PA October 27, 1983

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Department of State Bulletin v. 83, no.2081 December 1983 p. 49


February 22, 1984

 

“… And I had never referred to them as illegal, as some did.  But I did say that I thought they were not helpful, because obviously the peace process… is going to have to involve territorial changes in return for secure, peaceful borders….”

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1984 Document #203 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1986 p. 496

 

The George H.W. Bush Administration

November 27, 1989

"Since the end of the 1967 war, the U.S. has regarded Israel as the occupying power in the occupied territories, which includes the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The U.S. considers Israel's occupation to be governed by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the 1949 Geneva Conventions concerning the protection of civilian populations under military occupation."

Thomas Pickering, US Ambassador to the United Nations, November 27, 1989
Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm.


March 3, 1990

 

“My position is that the foreign policy of the United States says we do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.  And I will conduct that policy as if it’s firm, which it is, and I will be shaped in whatever decisions we make to see whether people can comply with that policy.  And that’s our strongly held view.”

President George H.W. Bush, press conference, March 03, 1990

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents: George Bush v. 26, no. 10 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1990 p. 45

Or, available online at, Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

May 22, 1991

“Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process on each of my trips I have been met with the announcement of new settlement activity.  This does violate United States policy.  It is the first thing that Arabs--Arab governments—the first thing that Palestinians in the territories—whose situation is really quite desperate—the first thing they raise when we talk to them.  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

When President Bush was asked about Baker’s criticism of Israel’s settlement policy, he told reporters, “Secretary Baker was speaking for this administration, and I strongly support what he said… It would make a big contribution to peace if these settlements would stop.  That’s what the secretary was trying to say… and I’m one hundred percent for him.”

President George H.W. Bush supporting Secretary of State Baker’s comments

Churches for Middle East Peace Website,  http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

July 20, 1991

“….Our particular opposition today to settlement activity is that it constitutes an obstacle to peace.  In the past, the position of the United States has been that it was, in fact, illegal.

Q. But that’s not this administration?

A.  That is not out policy.  No.”

Secretary of State James Baker, news conference, Jedah, Saudi Arabia, July 20, 1991

Boudreault, Jody, Naughton, Emma, Salaam, Yasser, eds. U.S. Official Statements: Israeli Settlements, the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993.

Foreign Policy Bulletin v. 2, no. 2 Sep/Oct 1991 p. 62

 

October 24, 1991

“The United States believes that no party should take unilateral actions that seek to predetermine issues that can only be reached through negotiations. In this regard the United States has opposed, and will continue to oppose, settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 which remain an obstacle to peace.”

US Letter of Assurances to the Palestinians on the terms of the Madrid Peace Conference excerpts, October 24, 1991

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

The Clinton Administration

March 09, 1993

 “There is some allowance for--I wouldn't use the word "expansion" but certainly continuing some activity--construction activities in existing settlements.

And that's basically… in terms of natural growth and basic, immediate needs in those settlements. I want to get away from the word "expansion" per se…”

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Edward Djerejian Redefines Settlement Policy, March 09, 1993

Foundation for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol03/no3/05-djerejian_redefines_settlement_policy.html, September 18, 2006


December 14, 1996

 

 “We write you because we are concerned that unilateral actions, such as expansion of settlements, would be strongly counterproductive to the goal of a negotiated solution and, if carried forward, 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 Middle East.”

Excerpt from a letter written to H.E. Benjamin Netanyahu on December 14, 1996. 

The letter was signed by: James A. Baker III (Former Secretary of State), Zbigniew Brzezinski (Former National Security Adviser), Frank C. Carlucci (Former National Security Adviser), Lawrence S. Eagleburger (Former Secretary of State), Richard Fairbanks (Former Middle East Peace Negotiator), Brent Scowcroft (Former National Security Adviser), Robert S. Straus (Former Middle East Peace Negotiator), Cyrus R. Vance (Former Secretary of State).

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


May 09, 1996

"In the past, settlement activity has created a great deal of tension and it has been a complicating factor in the Middle East, and in relations between Israel and the Palestinians and others. We certainly believe that to be true.

I think it's also true that Israel and the Palestinians have decided to resolve this question, if they can, in the context of the final status talks. . . . So it's up to them now to resolve that problem, but it has been a matter of tension and complication in the past, certainly."

Department of State spokesperson, State Department Daily Briefing, May 09, 1996

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html.


June 02, 1996

"I think we'll have to adapt our policy to the current situation. That was our policy. There's been no change in that policy. But I would want to keep open the situation of adapting our policy to the situation as it develops, as this new [Israeli] administration forms its government and begins to develop its own policies."

Secretary of State Warren Christopher on "Face the Nation," June 2, 1996.

The Foundation for Middle East Peace Website.  http://www.fmep.org/reports/vol07/no1/08-us_government_policy_on_israeli_settlement_in_the_occupied_territories_1967_1996.html, September 18, 2006


January 7, 2001

“The Israeli people also must understand that . . . the settlement enterprise and building bypass roads in the heart of what they already know will one day be part of a Palestinian state is inconsistent with the Oslo commitment that both sides negotiate a compromise.”

President Clinton’s farewell address to the Middle East -- January 7, 2001
Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


The George W. Bush Administration

April 12, 2001

 

“Some of the major settlements could be consolidated, and these settlers could become more confident of their eventual status as part of Israel.”

Amb. Edward Djerejian speaking on Regional Dynamics in the Middle East and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace - Considerations for U.S. Policy, April 12, 2001

State Department’s Website, http://fpc.state.gov/fpc/7483.htm.


April 30, 2001

“During the half-century of its existence, Israel has had the strong support of the United States.  In international forums, the United States has at times cast the only vote on Israel’s behalf.  Yet, even in such a close relationship there are some difficulties.  Prominent among those differences is the U.S. government’s long-standing opposition to the Government of Israel’s policies and practices regarding settlements.”

“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 very recently by the European Union as causing “great concern” and by the United States as “provocative.” 

The Mitchell Report, April 30, 2001

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


 April 04, 2002

“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 04, 2002

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

May 01, 2002

"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 01, 2002

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

May 29, 2002

“Our opposition to the settlements is political.  Washington feels that Israel would be better protected and more accepted inside borders where there are no settlements, so a decision on their future must be accepted on the basis of their feasibility.  It is a fact that 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 – Ha’aretz, May 29, 2002
Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


November 25, 2002

“Our position on settlements, I think, has been very consistent, very clear. The secretary expressed it not too long ago.  He said settlement activity has severely undermined Palestinian trust and hope, preempts and prejudges the outcome of negotiations, and in doing so, cripples chances for real peace and prosperity.  The U.S. has long opposed settlement activity and, consistent with the report of the Mitchell Committee, settlement activity must stop.”

Mr. Richard Boucher, U.S. Department of State –Daily Press Briefing, June 25, 2002

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

June 03, 2003

"Israel has got responsibilities. Israel must deal with the settlements. Israel must make sure there is a contiguous territory that the Palestinians can call home." 

President George W. Bush, June 03, 2003

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006


September 21, 2003

"Settlement activity must stop. And it has not stopped to our satisfaction."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, September 21, 2003

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/settlements.htm, September 11, 2006

 

December 31, 2003

“I would say that we continue -- our policy continues to be that Israel should freeze settlement construction.”

Daily Press Briefing by Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman, December 31, 2003

State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2003/27640.htm, September 07, 2006


April 14, 2004

“Today, the Prime Minister told me of his decision to take such a step. Israel plans to remove certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and certain military installations and settlements from the West Bank. These are historic and courageous actions. If all parties choose to embrace this moment they can open the door to progress and put an end to one of the world's longest running conflicts.”

“I commend Prime Minister Sharon for his bold and courageous decision to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. I call on the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors to match that boldness and that courage. All of us must show the wisdom and the will to bring lasting peace to that region.”

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations 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, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”

President Bush’s comments in joint press conference with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004
White House Website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040414-4.html, September 07, 2006


April 14, 2004
 

“We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace. We also understand that, in this context, Israel believes it is important to bring new opportunities to the Negev and the Galilee. We are hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with my vision, will remind all states and parties of their own obligations under the roadmap.”

Excerpt from exchange of letters with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Reference+Documents/Exchange+of+letters+Sharon-Bush+14-Apr-2004.htm, September 07, 2006


March 24, 2005

“Now, our position on settlement activity has not changed. We have said to the Israelis that they have obligations under the roadmap, they have obligations not to increase settlement activity. We expect, in particular, that they are going to be careful about anything -- route of the fence, settlement activity, laws -- that would appear to prejudge a final status agreement, and it's concerning that this is where it is and around Jerusalem. But we've noted our concern to the Israelis -- and David Welch (Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs) and Elliott [Abrams] (NSC Advisor) did. We will continue to note that this is at odds with the -- of American policy. So full stop we will continue to do that and we have noted our concerns about it.” 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Interview with LA Times, March 24, 2005

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/BushAdmin_Jerusalem.htm, September 11, 2006

 
May 26, 2005

“Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudice final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Therefore, Israel must remove unauthorized outposts and stop settlement expansion.”

President Bush speaking with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, May 26, 2005

White House Website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050526.html, September 06, 2006


June 26, 2005

“I traveled to Ramallah and I saw your [settlement] construction with my own eyes. It is not possible to operate in the territories in a manner that will change the situation before discussions on final status. True, the president promised the prime minister to consider the realities on the ground and concentrations of population--this is very important and the United States stands behind this commitment. But the president added that it is clear to all sides that the final borders will be determined only through negotiation. We cannot sanction creating a new reality on the ground by actions that continue today. I mean by this those activities in Jerusalem and its environs meant to change the reality on the ground. I saw these things with my own eyes and I am very concerned.
“We want very much to support Israel in this critical period, and we recognize the sensitivity of the situation, but it is impossible to sanction the continuation of construction and its influence on the final border. This is very important to us. I traveled close to Ma’ale Adumim, and I saw the construction along the way.”

Conversation with Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom, as reported in Ma’ariv, June 26, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, June 26, 2005

Churches for Middle East Peace Website, http://www.cmep.org/documents/BushAdmin_Jerusalem.htm, September 11, 2006


September 20, 2005

“As to Israeli activities that might try and prejudge a final status, we've been very clear. President Bush has been very clear that we do not expect Israel to engage in activities that will prejudge a final status because questions about the final border are indeed final status issues. We've been clear that activity in the settlements, for instance at E-1 (proposed settlement area in the West Bank, east of Jerusalem) or with the separation barrier that have an effect on Palestinian livelihood, that the international community expects Israel to live up to its roadmap obligations here, to its obligations not to engage in that activity.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, September 20, 2005

State Department Website, http://fpc.state.gov/fpc/53625.htm, September 6, 2006


October 20, 2005

“Israel must continue to work with Palestinian leaders to help improve the daily lives of Palestinians. At the same time, Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes its road map obligations, or prejudices the final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. This means that Israel must remove unauthorized posts and stop settlement expansion.”

President Bush speaking with PA president Mahmoud Abbas, October 20, 2005

White House Website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/10/20051020.html, September 6, 2006


 November 14, 2005

“On settlement activity, we’ve made it very clear that settlement activity is counter both to U.S. policy and, we believe, counter to the obligations that the Israelis have undertaken. We’ve been very clear that there should be no activities that prejudge a final status agreement and we are in constant discussion with the Israelis about those -- about those matters.  We do with the Israelis what we do with each of the parties, which is to ask them to concentrate very hard on what they need to do to fulfill their obligations.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaking at a joint press conference with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, November 14, 2005

State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/56847.htm, September 6, 2006

 
May 23, 2006

“Today, Prime Minister Olmert shared with me some of his ideas -- I would call them bold ideas. These ideas could lead to a two-state solution if a pathway to progress on the road map is not open in the period ahead. His ideas include the removal of most Israeli settlements, except for the major Israeli population centers in the West Bank. This idea would follow Prime Minister Sharon's decision to remove all settlements in Gaza and several in the West Bank.
I look forward to learning more about the Prime Minister's ideas. While any final status agreement will be only achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes, and no party should prejudice the outcome of negotiations on a final status agreement, the Prime Minister's ideas could be an important step toward the peace we both support. I'm encouraged by his constructive efforts to find ways to move the peace process forward.”

Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel at Joint Press Availability, May 23, 2006

State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/2006/66812.htm, September 07, 2006


May 24, 2006

“Settlements are, of course, one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As such, they are treated in the Roadmap, the President’s guide for finding a way out of the most controversial issues. Violence – either by settlers or Palestinians – is unacceptable. One step for addressing the issue of settlements is to encourage settler withdrawals, such as we saw during the Gaza Disengagement last year. In fact, one potentially positive aspect of Prime Minister Olmert’s ideas on settler withdrawal from the West Bank (which he presented to President Bush yesterday) is that withdrawal could further reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and open the way for the two-state solution that President Bush envisions.”

“Hamas might have claimed victory for Gaza Disengagement, but the fact is that it was a triumph for Israel, because it implemented a highly controversial, yet courageous plan. The Palestinian Authority also deserves credit for its role in facilitating Disengagement under very difficult circumstances.”

Michael Doran, Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs, National Security Council, May 24, 2006

State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/2006/66736.htm, September 07, 2006


September 05, 2006

“[I]n general it’s a principle of the road map — a foundation to reach peace in the region — that Israel not only remove illegal outposts, but also not expand settlements in the West Bank.” 

The United States, Mr. Tuttle said, opposes “any actions that would prejudice final status negotiations, which would include the final borders of Israel and Palestine.”

Stewart Tuttle, the spokesman for the American Embassy in Israel.  Tuttle’s statement followed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s authorization for the construction of another 690 homes in the occupied West Bank, September 05, 2006

Steve Erlanger.  “Over U.S. Objections, Israel Approves West Bank Homes,” New York Times.  September 5, 2006.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/05/world/middleeast/05mideast.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast&oref=slogin


September 07, 2006

“[T]hey should not be expanding the settlements. There should not be expansion of the settlements and outposts should be removed.”

Sean McCormack, Spokesman, Daily Press Briefing, September 07, 2006

State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2006/71935.htm, September 14, 2006


September 20, 2006

Q. “I just wanted to ask about settlements in the West Bank. After the war with Hezbollah, Israel announced that they were going to go ahead and build the settlements. And there were a lot of Israeli analysts who are saying, okay, now, after this war, we don't see a withdrawal from the West Bank anytime soon. Can you tell us if the President has had any conversations about these settlements, given that he's talking about a Palestinian state as such an important objective?”

MR. ABRAMS:  “Well, I guess I can say two things. First, the President -- at the time that Prime Minister Olmert announced his realignment plan and came to Washington, as you know, the President supported it and continues to support the idea that there should be a withdrawal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as we move closer to peace.

I think I would -- the second thing, though, is I don't think that Israel has announced any new settlements. I think there was an announcement last week that several of the settlements west of the fence are expanding, with additional housing starts in them, rather than new settlements.

But I think our position has been made clear over time and was made clear during the late July 2005 Sharon meeting with the President, where he talked -- gave a sense of his view about settlements on the West Bank, the major blocks, and so forth.”

Q. So there's been no new discussions with the Israelis about that announcement of expanding settlements in the West Bank?

MR. ABRAMS:  “I think there has been -- I believe that either -- I believe the U.S. embassy may have sought further details to what exactly was announced because they are aware that we are concerned about any expansion of settlements that has any impact on the life and interest of Palestinians living near those settlements.”

Press Briefing by Elliott Abrams (Deputy National Security Advisor) on President Bush’s Bilateral Meeting with President Abbas, New York, September 20, 2006
 
Whitehouse Website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060920-2.html, September 27, 2006


May 18, 2009

"...Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That's a difficult issue. I recognize that, but it's an important one and it has to be addressed."
Remarks by President Barack Obama in a press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu Of Israel, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-President-Obama-and-Israeli-Prime-Minister-Netanyahu-in-press-availability/.


May 19, 2009

 

Q:

"Madame Secretary, when President Obama yesterday talked about the issue of settlements and he said that he wanted the Israelis to freeze the building on the West Bank, does that mean that he wants the settlements, the existing settlements, to be rolled back to the 1967 border, specifically?"

 

A: "Well, there are two pieces to that question. First, we want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity. That is what the President has called for. We also are going to be pushing for a two-state solution which, by its very name, implies borders that have to be agreed to. And we expect to see two states living side by side, a state for the Palestinians that will be sovereign and within which the Palestinians will have the authorities that come with being in charge of a state with respect to such activities as settlements. So it’s really a two-step effort here. We want to see a stop now, and then, as part of this intensive engagement that Senator Mitchell is leading for us, we want to move toward a two-state solution with borders for the Palestinians."

Q: "Madame Secretary, when President Obama yesterday talked about the issue of settlements and he said that he wanted the Israelis to freeze the building on the West Bank, does that mean that he wants the settlements, the existing settlements, to be rolled back to the 1967 border, specifically?"

A: "Well, there are two pieces to that question. First, we want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth – any kind of settlement activity. That is what the President has called for. We also are going to be pushing for a two-state solution which, by its very name, implies borders that have to be agreed to. And we expect to see two states living side by side, a state for the Palestinians that will be sovereign and within which the Palestinians will have the authorities that come with being in charge of a state with respect to such activities as settlements. So it’s really a two-step effort here. We want to see a stop now, and then, as part of this intensive engagement that Senator Mitchell is leading for us, we want to move toward a two-state solution with borders for the Palestinians."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in an interview with Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera,  http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/05/123671.htm.


May 27, 2009

"With respect to settlements, the President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point."
Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton in a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit, http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/05/124009.htm.


June 1, 2009

Q: "...If you want to improve relations with the Muslim world, do you have to change or alter in some way the strong U.S. support for Israel?"

A: "No, I don't think that we have to change strong U.S. support for Israel. I think that we do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace. And that's going to require, from my view, a two-state solution that is going to require that each side - the Israelis and Palestinians - meet their obligations. I've said very clearly to the Israelis both privately and publicly that a freeze on settlements, including natural growth, is part of those obligations."

President Barack Obama, interview with NPR, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104806528.

 

June 4, 2009

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

President Barack Obama in an address at the Cairo University, Egypt, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/.

 

 

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