The rise of more than 40 years of US policy, which declared Israel's expansion into the territories occupied since the 1967 war a major obstacle to the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The timing was not tied to anything that needed to be done somewhere with domestic politics," he said. "We did our review, and this was the right time to move it forward."
Since the 1967 war, more than 700,000 settlers have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Both areas are claimed by Palestinians for a future state.
Because Israel occupied the area for the first time, only the Carter administration, based on a legal opinion from the State Department in 1978, declared settlements illegal, although all governments have since called them illegal. They impede peace and call for freeze Expansion and new construction of settlements.
One month before President Trump took office, Barack Obama – whose government called settlements "illegitimate" – was the first US president to veto one of them, and countless UN resolutions that called it illegal. In one of its last official acts, this government abstained from a United Nations vote that described settlements as "a flagrant violation of international law" and made it possible for it to pass.
Foreign Minister John F. Kerry stated this in a speech The abstention referred to "the proliferation of settlement outposts that are illegal under Israel's own laws."
Pompeo said the government returned to politics under Ronald Reagan, pointing out that Reagan said in a 1981 interview that settlements were "not illegal." However, in this interview, Reagan went on to say settlements were "ill-advised ". His later peace plan of 1983 stated that "the immediate acceptance of a settlement stop by Israel more than any other measure would improve the prospects for peace.
"The United States government does not comment on the legal status of a single settlement," said Pompeo. Such assessments are a matter for the Israeli courts, "he said." We are not concerned with the final status of the West Bank and do not anticipate it. This is a matter for the Israelis and Palestinians.
The announcement met with immediate criticism and skepticism that it had nothing to do with Israeli and US politics.
"The timing is a mystery to me. "Said Dennis Ross, who played a leading role in shaping Middle East policy under several governments from Reagan to Obama. "If you were still interested in presenting the Trump peace plan, you would not want to do anything that would cast a spell on important Arab leaders … in a position to move them much more."
The introduction of the Middle East Peace Plan promised by Trump at the beginning of his term has been repeatedly postponed.
Aaron David Miller, Former Middle East The peace negotiator under the Republican and Democratic government said that "this is essentially the whole At a time when the peace process is anything but comatose and they know that it is unlikely to resurrect. "
In Israel, both Netanyahu and former army chief Benny vie with each other Gantz, who after stalled elections in Israel each to the formation of a government September welcomed the turnaround  "The fate of the settlements and the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria should be determined by agreements that can meet security requirements and promote peace," Gantz said in a statement using the Biblical names for the West Bank, which has been used in recent years Became the vernacular of the Israelis.
Netanyahu, a staunch proponent of settlements and proposal to incorporate the Jordan Valley into Israel proper, praised the move as "a historical truth – the Jewish. The people of Judea and Samaria are not foreign colonialists. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea. "
But Pompeo's announcement was taken with dismay by Palestinian leaders and peace advocates who view the expansion of settlements as a reduction in the likelihood – and size – of a potential future Palestinian state.
"Israeli settlements steal Palestinian land, confiscate and use Palestinian mineral wealth, and divide, displace, and restrict the Palestinian people's movement," said Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO, in a statement. "With this announcement, the Trump administration once again demonstrates to what extent it threatens the international system with its relentless attempts to replace international law with the & # 39; law of the jungle."
Ayman Odeh, leader of a faction of the Israeli-Arab members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, tweeted: "No foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land, one day an independent Palestinian state should stand next to the State of Israel. "
Softening US attitudes toward settlements is a groundbreaking moment for Netanyahu as he clings to power in a difficult political moment. His rival Gantz has less than two days to form a government before the process is open to all parliamentary negotiations. It is widely expected that Netanyahu will be charged with corruption in the coming weeks, if not days.
"Israel is deeply grateful to President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the entire US administration for their steadfast position that supports truth and justice," Netanyahu said in the statement.
Pompeo also announced the lifting of a sanction waiver allowing EU and Russian companies to work with Iran as it transformed an underground uranium enrichment facility into a "core, physics and technology center." The terms of the Nuclear Accord Obama administration with Iran of 2015.
Pompeo said that the waiver will be lifted on 15 December, after Iran has announced it will increase uranium enrichment in the facility. The ruling exposes foreign companies working with Iran on the facility to US sanctions.
"The right amount of uranium enrichment for the largest state terror sponsor in the world is nil," said Pompeo Verzicht is needlessly vengeful and risks an even more dangerous confrontation with Iran.
In Iraq, where the government has unleashed a deadly crackdown on anti-corruption demonstrators, Pompeo said the United States is ready to impose new sanctions on proven officials corrupt or involved in violent clashes with peaceful protesters 315 people were killed last month.
"We will not be idle while the corrupt officials make the Iraqi people suffer," Pompeo said. "We support the Iraqi people in their quest for a prosperous Iraq that is free of corruption … The Iraqi leaders must protect human rights."
Hendrix reported from Jerusalem.