The US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday issued a travel warning for Americans planning to visit Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, warning of Palestinian unrest in light of Washington’s settlement policy shift announced earlier in the day.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that they were “inconsistent with international law.”
The move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.
“The US embassy advises US citizens in or considering travel to or through Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment,” the US embassy said in the warning. “Individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement may target US government facilities, US private interests, and US citizens.”
The embassy said potential targets included “public events, such as demonstrations, holiday events, and celebratory gatherings; hotels, clubs, and restaurants popular with US citizens; places of worship; schools; shopping malls and markets; tourism infrastructure; public transportation and airports.”
“US citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security at sites and events that are potential targets,” the advisory warning added. “In addition, US citizens in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem should avoid non-essential movements and events that attract attention. US citizens should carefully consider risks to their personal safety and security at sites and events that are potential targets.”
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate,” Pompeo told reporters earlier, the United States had concluded that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”