US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that the United States no longer considers settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal, reversing 40 years of American policy.

Pompeo said the decision was made after "carefully studying all sides of the legal debate".

According to several United Nations Security Council resolutions, the most recent in 2016, Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

Omar Shakir, director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel and Palestine, says the Trump administration cannot erase decades of established international law.

"There is consensus outside of this Israeli government, and outside of the Trump administration, that settlements are illegal. It is as uncontroversial to say settlements are illegal as it is to say that torture is illegal. It is black-and-white international law," Shakir said.

Eugene Kontorovich, an international law professor at George Mason University Scalia Law School and the Israeli think-tank Kohelet Policy Forum, says settlements are not illegal because you can only occupy the territory of another country.

"In 1967, when Israel retook the West Bank, it was not Jordanian territory. Jordan was not the sovereign. It was not - there was no Palestinian state, it's not occupation," Kontorovich said.

In this week's Arena, we discuss the US policy reversal on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.

Source: Al Jazeera News