Canadian Friends of Peace Now joins its sister organizations in Israel and the U.S. in condemning the statement on West Bank Jewish settlements by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reversing a long-standing American position, Pompeo said “settlements are not per se illegal under international law.”

However, Peace Now says: “No declaration will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied territory, in contravention of international law, and that they pose among the greatest obstacles to peace.”

The U.S. announcement gives the green light for further settlement expansion and encourages those who wish Israel to annex the West Bank officially. This, as Peace Now says, is “a direct assault on the two-state solution.” Unrestrained Jewish settlement growth is incompatible with a two-state solution which is predicated upon an eventual Palestinian state on the West Bank living side-by-side in peace with Israel.

Other one-sided moves by the Trump administration to date have alienated Palestinians from the U.S. and moved Israelis and Palestinians further from a negotiated peace than they have been for decades. The new policy continues the trend and has been met by outrage from Palestinians along with international condemnation. With this announcement the current U.S. administration seems bent on countenancing unilateral Israeli land grabs at the cost of a viable Palestinian state down the road. This can only lead to an apartheid-like one-state reality and permanent conflict.

The U.S. is not being a friend to Israel with its permissive stance on settlement growth. A two-state agreement is necessary for Israel’s existence as a democratic Jewish state and therefore in the national self-interest.