The Visit of Officials in the Trump Administration to Illegal Israeli Settlements

Media Briefs
November 18, 2020

Tomorrow, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot, built on lands of Jabal Al Taweel in the city of Al-Bireh, as well as the Christian pilgrimage Baptism Site on the Jordan River. Both sites are located within the internationally recognized boundaries of the State of Palestine.

  • The Trump administration's support of the Israeli settlement enterprise will neither change international law nor international consensus on Israeli settlements' illegality. Noting that all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine are equally illegal under international law, they are a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitute a war crime within the meaning of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Universal consensus on these colonial-settlements' illegality has been repeated in numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including 2334, 446, 452, 465, 471, and 476, which consider settlements as having "no legal validity" under the Fourth Geneva Convention. 
  • Currently, 690,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied Palestinian territory. In coordination with the Israeli occupying forces, these settlers implement their government's policies by illegally exploiting Palestinian lands and natural resources.
  • The manufacturing of goods in illegal Israeli settlements is also a violation of international law. According to international humanitarian law, such a practice constitutes a breach of Israel's obligations as an occupying power and its duty as a "usufructuary.1" This also violates Palestine's universally recognized right of sovereignty over its natural resources. The occupying power's exploitation of the occupied territory's natural resources also contradicts the UN Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights. It helps perpetuate the denial of the inalienable Palestinian right to self-determination. In such unlawful situations, Third States must fulfill their international obligations of non-recognition and non-assistance. Therefore, such products must be banned from all markets. 
  • The Baptism Site (Al-Maghtas on the Jordan River) and all other religious and cultural heritage sites located in occupied Palestine are under Israel's military rule and occupation. Israel has been mainly using such places, including in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, to promote the normalization of its illegal colonial-settlement enterprise and annexation process.

Al-Bireh and the Illegal Colonial-Settlement of Psagot (located on Jabal Al-Taweel). 

Psagot was established in 1981 on Jabal Al Taweel, a mountain within the village lands of the city of Al-Bireh, which lies to the north of Jerusalem. Its population is nearly 2,000 settlers, of which many are American citizens.

Al Bireh is a historical Palestinian city2 of 25,000 dunums of land (15,000 of them in the so-called "Area C" or under full Israeli control). It has a large community of US citizens, with the first Palestinian from Al Bireh immigrating to the United States in 1909. Several of them have been directly affected by the construction of the illegal colonial-settlement. 

Since 1967, Israel has been confiscating Palestinian land to construct illegal settlements through various land confiscation measures. Today, Because of these measures, Israel controls 60% of the area of the West Bank. In the case of Al-Bireh, two illegal settlements (Pesagot and Beit El) were constructed east and north-east of the city, suppressing Al-Bireh's natural growth towards the east. In addition to illegal settlements, infrastructure/ road networks and settlement outposts are built on Al Bireh's land. Israeli settlers have committed regular acts of terror against Palestinians in the area; among the latest is the arson of a mosque in Al Bireh on 26 July 2020.

The settlement hosts the "Binyamin Regional Council" (organization of illegal settlements located in the Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Jericho governorates) in addition to producing wine (Psagot Winery) and manufacturing playground equipment (Mikanei Psagot). Grapes used by the winery also come from occupied Palestinian territory. The wines are exported to Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Panama, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The company also claims to be present in "over 150 Duty-Free Locations Around the World".

The international community has the legal and moral responsibility not to recognize nor support and/or collaborate with Israel's illegal colonial-settlement enterprise.  


  • 1. An occupying power is not a sovereign in occupied territory. Therefore, international humanitarian law, specifically article 55 of the Hague Regulations, limits its authority to a usufructuary. Accordingly, an occupying power has minimal authority to administer “public buildings, real property, forests and agricultural works” which belong to the occupied territory and protect their capital. Thus, an occupying power is forbidden from exploiting these resources in a manner that would deplete these resources or exhaust them. It is also prohibited for the occupying power to exploit these resources to generate economic profit for its own benefit. Such excessive exploitation, including of natural resources, would also amount to the war crime of pillage.
  • 2. The name "Bireh" comes from the Canaanite name "Beeroth", meaning "water well". It's a city of importance for the Christian tradition. More information available on the website of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities: 
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