Palestinian PM slams US policy shift on settlements

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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned an announcement Monday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Israeli settlements in the West Bank will no longer be viewed as illegal "per se."

"The U.S.'s partial bias towards one of the most radical trends in Israel [of illegal settlement building] prevents it from seeing the basic principles of international law," Shtayyeh told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

"This is nothing but an effort to support [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu in the final moments of the prime minister's [electoral] race," he added.

"The statement by the U.S. official confirms that it is a partner in the attacks on our people and their rights," Hazim Kasim, spokesman for the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, said in a statement, referring to Pompeo.

Kasim said the Israeli settlements are "war crimes where Israel expelled the real owners of these lands and built settlements using force and brought Israelis there from all over the world."

The Islamic Jihad group and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called for unity against the division of Palestine.

Hamas is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want these territories along with the Gaza Strip for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.

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