Netanyahu: This is a great day for Israel

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the Trump administration Tuesday, hailing as a 'great day for Israel' the US State Department's declaration that it does not view Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as illegal under international law.

Speaking during a visit to Israeli towns in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Netanyahu called Secertary of State Mike Pompeo's Monday announcement regarding Judea and Samaria a "great day for the State of Israel".

"This is a very great day for the State of Israel, and an achievement that will last through the ages."

"I admit that I am very excited," Netanyahu continued. "We are here, in Gush Etzion, the place where we were expelled from during the War of Independence, and yet here we are on this historic day with another amazing achievement for the State of Israel, something we worked hard for."

"The Trump administration has now rectified a historic injustice, and promoted truth and justice. I thank President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This is a very great day for the State of Israel."

On Monday, Pompeo announced that the US will not consider Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as illegal under international law, adding that the legality of the settlement enterprise or of individual settlements is up to Israeli courts to determine.

The move marked a drastic shift from the previous administration, which allowed the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution castigating Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria as "illegal".

Pompeo cited the Reagan administration's refusal to characterize Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria as illegal, a departure from the Carter administration's policy.

"In 1978, the Carter administration categorically concluded that Israel's establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn't believe that the settlements were inherently illegal. Subsequent administrations recognized that unrestrained settlement activity could be an obstacle to peace, but they wisely and prudently recognized that dwelling on legal positions didn't advance peace," Pompeo explained.

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