"We consider it to be contrary to international law and an impediment to the successful conclusion of the Middle East peace process."
"Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention is, in my judgment, and has been in judgment of each of the legal advisors of the State Department for many, many years, to be"that (settlements) are illegal and that (the Convention) applies to the territories."
Earlier US administrations concurred. In March 1976, Ford's UN ambassador, William Scranton, said:
"Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the convention and cannot be considered to have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties on the locations of the borders of states by the Middle East."
"Indeed, the presence of these settlements is seen by my government as an obstacle to the success of the negotiations for a just and final peace between Israel and its neighbors."
In July 1969, Nixon's permanent UN representative, Charles Yost, said:
"The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in" Jerusalem.
"The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power."
"Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interests, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property."
"The pattern of behavior authorized under the Geneva Convention and international law is clear: the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by the immediate needs of the occupation."
The Johnson administration expressed similar views. It said nothing should "prejudice the search for" peace.
"By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas the GOI (government of Israel) adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement."
"Further, the transfer of civilians to occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention."
Reagan changed US policy. Defying international law he claimed settlements are "not illegal." They're merely "ill-advised" and "unnecessarily provocative."
Future presidents sustained his policy. Legal issues aren't addressed. Rhetoric substitutes for policy. Israel does what it pleases. It knows it has full US backing.