EU Foreign Policy Chief Repudiates Pompeo on Legality of Israeli Settlements; Silent on Iran Protests

By Patrick Goodenough | November 19, 2019 | 4:21am EST
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) –  It took European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini about an hour to issue a statement in response to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement Monday that the Trump administration does not view Israeli settlements in disputed West Bank as illegal under international law.

Mogherini has yet to issue a statement about the latest surge of protests in Iran, now in their fourth day. Exiled opposition groups say dozens of Iranians have been killed by security forces.

Pompeo made the announcement of the Israeli settlement policy shift in a briefing at the State Department, beginning at 2:33 PM eastern time and speaking for about 18 minutes.

Mogherini’s reaction statement was posted online by the E.U. foreign service at 9:54 PM Brussels time – or about an hour and three minutes after Pompeo ended his briefing.

In it, she pushed back on the secretary of state’s statement – the outcome of a legal review – to the effect that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged,” Mogherini said. “All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by U.N. Security Council resolution 2334.”

“The E.U. calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power,” she added. “The E.U. will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”

Security Council resolution 2334 is the text adopted weeks before the end of the Obama administration, which controversially chose to abstain rather than veto it.

It was significant because it described areas disputed between Israelis and Palestinians, including the location of the holiest site in Judaism, as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

The resolution included a paragraph reaffirming “that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law …”

Meanwhile, as protests continued in cities and town across Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization – warned on Monday that it would take “decisive” action against anyone disrupting security.

“The United States is monitoring the ongoing protests in Iran closely,” Pompeo said. “We condemn strongly any acts of violence committed by this regime against the Iranian people and are deeply concerned by reports of several fatalities.”

He called on the regime to stop violence against the Iranian  people and restore their ability to access the Internet, adding, “The world is watching.”

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in the Iranian parliament during re-elected President Hassan Rouhani’s 2017 swearing in. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in the Iranian parliament during re-elected President Hassan Rouhani’s 2017 swearing in. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

There was no official reaction from Brussels, however.

“As the E.U.’s foreign affairs chief, who speaks often of international law and U.N. resolutions, how can you be silent as the Iranian regime cuts down innocent protesters?” U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer asked in a tweet addressed to Mogherini.

“As a person who smiles with regime officials, shouldn't you speak out when they commit atrocities?” he added. Neuer also posted photos showing a smiling and headscarf-wearing Mogherini with Iran’s president and lawmakers.

The E.U. is a key partner in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which it viewed as both a major diplomatic achievement and an economic win for the bloc. Over the 18 months since President Trump withdrew from the accord Mogherini has worked hard to try to keep it afloat.

In a UPI op-ed on Friday Struan Stevenson, a former Scottish Conservative member of the European Parliament, described Mogherini as “a regular visitor to Tehran, where she would wear the veil in submission to the mullahs’ misogyny and pose for selfies with the turbaned tyrants. She was also an arch critic of the U.S. administration’s re-imposition of tough sanctions on Iran.”

Mogherini, a left-leaning Italian politician, is soon to step down from the E.U. post. Her designated successor is Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell, a socialist also viewed as sympathetic towards Iran.



 

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