Arab League formally rejects U.S. policy shift on Israeli settlements

FILE PHOTO: Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit attends the Arab Foreign Ministers extraordinary meeting to discuss the Syrian crisis in Cairo, Egypt October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League on Monday formally rejected a decision by the United States to no longer consider settlements in Israeli-occupied territory illegal, saying the move was a threat to peace and a flagrant violation of international law.

Meeting in a special session in Cairo, the Arab League said it considered the U.S. position legally null and void and showed “unprecedented disdain for the international system”, according to Egyptian state news agency MENA.

The Nov. 18 announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reversed a stand taken under President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Palestinians and Arab leaders criticized the Trump administration’s move as the latest in a succession of pro-Israeli initiatives that were damaging to peace efforts.

“On which basis would the Palestinians negotiate with the Israelis if this occupation does not exist?” Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Monday.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy and Hesham Abdul Halek; Writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by Grant McCool