Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory remain illegal despite the US saying it no longer considers them inconsistent with international law, the United Nations human rights office has said.

The Trump administration abandoned its four-decade policy on Monday by saying it was “reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements”.

“We continue to follow the long-standing position of the UN that Israeli settlements are in breach of international law,” UN human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing.

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Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

“A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Security Council,” he said.

The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 – which both the US and Israel have ratified – lays down that an occupying power shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, he added.

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World news in pictures

1/50 19 November 2019

An image taken from a plane window shows Sydney shrouded in smoke from nearby bush fires

2/50 18 November 2019

Protesters run for cover after riot police fired tear gas towards the bridge they were climbing down to the road below, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Dozens escaped the besieged campus by lowering themselves on a rope from a footbridge to a highway. Once on the road they were seen being picked up by waiting motorcyclists

3/50 17 November 2019

Anti-government protesters draped in Iraqi national flags walk into clouds of smoke from burning tires during a demonstration in the southern city of Basra, Iraq

4/50 16 November 2019

A protester wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag in a fountain during a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the “yellow vests” movement in Nice, France

5/50 15 November 2019

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces amid clashes following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum

6/50 14 November 2019

A patient suffering from dengue fever receives medical treatment at an isolation ward at a hospital in Larkana, Pakistan. According to local reports, 26 deaths have been reported out of a total of 10,013 confirmed cases of dengue infection. Dengue fever is reportedly caused by a specific type of mosquito, the Aedes mosquito, that bites only during daytime, especially during sunrise and sunset.

7/50 13 November 2019

An anti-government protester flashes the V-sign for victory in front of burning tyres used to block a main road at the entrance of Tripoli. The previous night, street protests erupted across Lebanon after President Michel Aoun defended the role of his allies, the Shiite movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon’s government, cutting off several major roads. In his televised address, Aoun proposed a government that includes both technocrats and politicians

8/50 12 November 2019

An Israeli missile launching from the Iron Dome defence missile system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells. They were sent up to intercept rockets launched from the nearby Palestinian Gaza Strip. Israel’s military killed a commander for Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in a strike on his home, prompting retaliatory rocket fire and fears of a severe escalation in violence

9/50 11 November 2019

A species of deer thought to be extinct, the chevrotain, has been spotted for the first time in 30 years in the wilds of Vietnam. The deer is around the size of a domestic cat

10/50 10 November 2019

The royal motorcade of Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, under tight security, passes through a street in Tokyo. Thousands of people gathered for the rare open-top car parade featuring the newly enthroned Emperor

11/50 9 November 2019

People knock over a mock-up of the former Berlin Wall during a performance prior to the German first division Bundesliga football match Hertha BSC Berlin v RB Leipzig on the 30 anniversary of the fall off the wall

12/50 8 November 2019

Flames from an out of control bushfire from a nearby residential area in Harrington, northeast of Sydney. Australian firefighters warned they were in “uncharted territory” as they struggled to contain dozens of out-of-control bushfires across the east of the country

13/50 7 November 2019

Demonstrators shine lasers during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, the capital

14/50 6 November 2019

Activists from India’s main opposition Congress party shout slogans as they are stopped by police during a protest against what the activists say is economic slowdown in the country, in Guwahati, India

15/50 5 November 2019

Smoke rises from a fire in downtown Lagos, Nigeria. Firefighters worked hard to try and extinguish a fire at the Balogun market. Thick black smoke and flames shot from the five-story buildings as fire trucks attempted to get access

16/50 4 November 2019

Women run down a sand dune as they take part in the desert trek “Rose Trip Maroc” in the erg Chebbi near Merzouga. It is a female-oriented trek where teams of three must travel through the southern Moroccan Sahara desert with a compass, a map and a topographical reporter

17/50 3 November 2019

Riot police descend an escalator inside the City Plaza mall in Hong Kong after a bloody knife fight wounded six people there. A local pro-democracy politician had his ear bitten off during another chaotic day of political unrest in the city

18/50 2 November 2019

People participate in the celebration of the ‘muerteadas de Jalapa del Valle’, as part of the Day of the Dead in Mexico
Firefighters work to control flames from a backfire during the Maria fire in Santa Paula, California

20/50 31 October 2019

Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, over the Vestrahorn mountain in the east of Iceland

21/50 30 October 2019

A model presents a creation at the show Heaven Gaia by Xiong Ying during the China Fashion Week in Beijing. The fashion event runs from 25 October to 2 November

22/50 29 October 2019

Hindu devotees collect rice as offerings on ‘Annakut’ or ‘Govardhan Puja’ festival at the Madan Mohan temple in Kolkata. People in large numbers gather at the temple to collect the rice offerings in the belief that it will keep them in good health and they’ll never face poverty or scarcity of food

23/50 28 October 2019

Authorities investigate after a Port Authority bus was caught in a sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

24/50 27 October 2019

South Africa players celebrate after beating Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final match. The Springboks will face England in next Saturday’s final following fly-half Handre Pollard’s match-winning penalty four minutes from time. The match ended 19-16

25/50 26 October 2019

Participants from Thailand pose in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as they take part in the annual gay pride parade in Taipei. Some two hundred thousand revellers marched through Taipei in a riot of rainbow colours and celebration as Taiwan held its first pride parade since making history in Asia by legalising gay marriage

26/50 25 October 2019

A girl enjoys a ball bath as she is being photographed at the made-for-Instagram museum ‘Cali Dreams’ in Dusseldorf, Germany. No artworks are shown in this museum, rather each visitor himself becomes an artwork by staging himself in front of one of the 25 sceneries. Cali Dreams is initially open for three months. After this test phase, however, the museum is planned as a long-term project
A fire lorry speeds towards a rampant wildfire near Geyserville, California

28/50 23 October 2019

Protesters facing Lebanese army soldiers wave national flags in the area of Jal al-Dib in the northern outskirts of Beirut. A week of unprecedented street protests against the political class showed no signs of abating, despite the army moving to reopen key roads. Protests were sparked on October 17 by a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other messaging apps

29/50 22 October 2019

Liberal leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to supporters beside his wife Sophie after the federal election at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. He managed to hold on to power, albeit of a minority government, in one of the most divisive elections in the country’s history

30/50 21 October 2019

A convoy of US vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq

31/50 20 October 2019

Japan players go over to thank their fans after South Africa beat them in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup. Makazole Mapimpi double ended the hosts’ dreams in Tokyo 3-26. The Springboks will now face Wales in the semi-finals for a place in the final

32/50 19 October 2019

Archaeologists remove the cover of an ancient painted coffin discovered at Al-Asasif Necropolis in the Vally of Kings in Luxor, Egypt

33/50 18 October 2019

A protester throws a tire on a fire to block the highway north of Beirut, Lebanon. Protesters, mainly civil activists, started demonstrating in the downtown area on 17 October, condemning proposed taxes in the 2020 budget. An unexpected addition to impose a daily fee for using WhatsApp calls caused outrage. However, according to the Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, the charge will not make it through the government palace after the impact it has made on the streets

34/50 17 October 2019

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border of Syria
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu

36/50 15 October 2019

Protesters create a burning barricade after the Supreme Court in Madrid handed lengthy prison sentences to nine of the detained Catalonian leaders for up to 13 years each

37/50 14 October 2019

Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong’s business district. The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997

38/50 13 October 2019

Japan players celebrate victory after beating Scotland 28-21 to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first ever time. The hosts head coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Hagibis

39/50 12 October 2019

Surging waves generated by typhoon Hagibis hit the seashore in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Hagibis is the strongest storm to hit in six decades and battered the country’s main island with torrential rain and violent winds

41/50 10 October 2019

People run to take cover after mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey. An Associated Press journalist said at least two government buildings were hit by the mortars in Sanliurfa province’s border town of Akcakale and at least two people were wounded

42/50 9 October 2019

Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting where at least two people were killed at multiple locations in Germany, including near a synagogue in the city of Halle

43/50 8 October 2019

This multi-exposure picture shows USA’s Simone Biles performing on the beam during the women’s team final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart
Extinction Rebellion activists block an intersection in Melbourne, Australia

45/50 6 October 2019

Protesters hold smoke grenades as they gather in central Kiev to demand broader autonomy for separatist territories, part of a plan to end a war with Russian-backed fighters
Anti-government protesters rush to an injured man during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq
Footage of a hugely rare polka dot zebra has been captured in Kenya. The foal was photographed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve

48/50 3 October 2019

A devotee dressed as the Hindu deity Maha Kali performs during Navratri festival celebrations in Ajmer in Rajasthan state, India

49/50 2 October 2019

A gust of wind lifts the cassock of Pope Francis during the weekly general audience at St.Peter’s square in the Vatican

50/50 1 October 2019

Protesters clash with an Iraqi riot police vehicle during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services in Baghdad

1/50 19 November 2019

An image taken from a plane window shows Sydney shrouded in smoke from nearby bush fires

2/50 18 November 2019

Protesters run for cover after riot police fired tear gas towards the bridge they were climbing down to the road below, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Dozens escaped the besieged campus by lowering themselves on a rope from a footbridge to a highway. Once on the road they were seen being picked up by waiting motorcyclists

3/50 17 November 2019

Anti-government protesters draped in Iraqi national flags walk into clouds of smoke from burning tires during a demonstration in the southern city of Basra, Iraq

4/50 16 November 2019

A protester wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag in a fountain during a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the “yellow vests” movement in Nice, France

5/50 15 November 2019

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces amid clashes following a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel in the village of Kfar Qaddum

6/50 14 November 2019

A patient suffering from dengue fever receives medical treatment at an isolation ward at a hospital in Larkana, Pakistan. According to local reports, 26 deaths have been reported out of a total of 10,013 confirmed cases of dengue infection. Dengue fever is reportedly caused by a specific type of mosquito, the Aedes mosquito, that bites only during daytime, especially during sunrise and sunset.

7/50 13 November 2019

An anti-government protester flashes the V-sign for victory in front of burning tyres used to block a main road at the entrance of Tripoli. The previous night, street protests erupted across Lebanon after President Michel Aoun defended the role of his allies, the Shiite movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon’s government, cutting off several major roads. In his televised address, Aoun proposed a government that includes both technocrats and politicians

8/50 12 November 2019

An Israeli missile launching from the Iron Dome defence missile system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells. They were sent up to intercept rockets launched from the nearby Palestinian Gaza Strip. Israel’s military killed a commander for Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in a strike on his home, prompting retaliatory rocket fire and fears of a severe escalation in violence

9/50 11 November 2019

A species of deer thought to be extinct, the chevrotain, has been spotted for the first time in 30 years in the wilds of Vietnam. The deer is around the size of a domestic cat

10/50 10 November 2019

The royal motorcade of Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, under tight security, passes through a street in Tokyo. Thousands of people gathered for the rare open-top car parade featuring the newly enthroned Emperor

11/50 9 November 2019

People knock over a mock-up of the former Berlin Wall during a performance prior to the German first division Bundesliga football match Hertha BSC Berlin v RB Leipzig on the 30 anniversary of the fall off the wall

12/50 8 November 2019

Flames from an out of control bushfire from a nearby residential area in Harrington, northeast of Sydney. Australian firefighters warned they were in “uncharted territory” as they struggled to contain dozens of out-of-control bushfires across the east of the country

13/50 7 November 2019

Demonstrators shine lasers during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, the capital

14/50 6 November 2019

Activists from India’s main opposition Congress party shout slogans as they are stopped by police during a protest against what the activists say is economic slowdown in the country, in Guwahati, India

15/50 5 November 2019

Smoke rises from a fire in downtown Lagos, Nigeria. Firefighters worked hard to try and extinguish a fire at the Balogun market. Thick black smoke and flames shot from the five-story buildings as fire trucks attempted to get access

16/50 4 November 2019

Women run down a sand dune as they take part in the desert trek “Rose Trip Maroc” in the erg Chebbi near Merzouga. It is a female-oriented trek where teams of three must travel through the southern Moroccan Sahara desert with a compass, a map and a topographical reporter

17/50 3 November 2019

Riot police descend an escalator inside the City Plaza mall in Hong Kong after a bloody knife fight wounded six people there. A local pro-democracy politician had his ear bitten off during another chaotic day of political unrest in the city

18/50 2 November 2019

People participate in the celebration of the ‘muerteadas de Jalapa del Valle’, as part of the Day of the Dead in Mexico
Firefighters work to control flames from a backfire during the Maria fire in Santa Paula, California

20/50 31 October 2019

Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, over the Vestrahorn mountain in the east of Iceland

21/50 30 October 2019

A model presents a creation at the show Heaven Gaia by Xiong Ying during the China Fashion Week in Beijing. The fashion event runs from 25 October to 2 November

22/50 29 October 2019

Hindu devotees collect rice as offerings on ‘Annakut’ or ‘Govardhan Puja’ festival at the Madan Mohan temple in Kolkata. People in large numbers gather at the temple to collect the rice offerings in the belief that it will keep them in good health and they’ll never face poverty or scarcity of food

23/50 28 October 2019

Authorities investigate after a Port Authority bus was caught in a sinkhole in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

24/50 27 October 2019

South Africa players celebrate after beating Wales in their Rugby World Cup semi-final match. The Springboks will face England in next Saturday’s final following fly-half Handre Pollard’s match-winning penalty four minutes from time. The match ended 19-16

25/50 26 October 2019

Participants from Thailand pose in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as they take part in the annual gay pride parade in Taipei. Some two hundred thousand revellers marched through Taipei in a riot of rainbow colours and celebration as Taiwan held its first pride parade since making history in Asia by legalising gay marriage

26/50 25 October 2019

A girl enjoys a ball bath as she is being photographed at the made-for-Instagram museum ‘Cali Dreams’ in Dusseldorf, Germany. No artworks are shown in this museum, rather each visitor himself becomes an artwork by staging himself in front of one of the 25 sceneries. Cali Dreams is initially open for three months. After this test phase, however, the museum is planned as a long-term project
A fire lorry speeds towards a rampant wildfire near Geyserville, California

28/50 23 October 2019

Protesters facing Lebanese army soldiers wave national flags in the area of Jal al-Dib in the northern outskirts of Beirut. A week of unprecedented street protests against the political class showed no signs of abating, despite the army moving to reopen key roads. Protests were sparked on October 17 by a proposed tax on WhatsApp and other messaging apps

29/50 22 October 2019

Liberal leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to supporters beside his wife Sophie after the federal election at the Palais des Congres in Montreal. He managed to hold on to power, albeit of a minority government, in one of the most divisive elections in the country’s history

30/50 21 October 2019

A convoy of US vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq

31/50 20 October 2019

Japan players go over to thank their fans after South Africa beat them in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup. Makazole Mapimpi double ended the hosts’ dreams in Tokyo 3-26. The Springboks will now face Wales in the semi-finals for a place in the final

32/50 19 October 2019

Archaeologists remove the cover of an ancient painted coffin discovered at Al-Asasif Necropolis in the Vally of Kings in Luxor, Egypt

33/50 18 October 2019

A protester throws a tire on a fire to block the highway north of Beirut, Lebanon. Protesters, mainly civil activists, started demonstrating in the downtown area on 17 October, condemning proposed taxes in the 2020 budget. An unexpected addition to impose a daily fee for using WhatsApp calls caused outrage. However, according to the Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair, the charge will not make it through the government palace after the impact it has made on the streets

34/50 17 October 2019

Children watch as army tanks are transported on trucks in the outskirts of the town of Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border of Syria
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu

36/50 15 October 2019

Protesters create a burning barricade after the Supreme Court in Madrid handed lengthy prison sentences to nine of the detained Catalonian leaders for up to 13 years each

37/50 14 October 2019

Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong’s business district. The protests that started in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have since snowballed into an anti-China campaign amid anger over what many view as Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy that was granted when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997

38/50 13 October 2019

Japan players celebrate victory after beating Scotland 28-21 to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first ever time. The hosts head coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to those who lost their lives in Typhoon Hagibis

39/50 12 October 2019

Surging waves generated by typhoon Hagibis hit the seashore in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Hagibis is the strongest storm to hit in six decades and battered the country’s main island with torrential rain and violent winds

41/50 10 October 2019

People run to take cover after mortars fired from Syria, in Akcakale, Turkey. An Associated Press journalist said at least two government buildings were hit by the mortars in Sanliurfa province’s border town of Akcakale and at least two people were wounded

42/50 9 October 2019

Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting where at least two people were killed at multiple locations in Germany, including near a synagogue in the city of Halle

43/50 8 October 2019

This multi-exposure picture shows USA’s Simone Biles performing on the beam during the women’s team final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart
Extinction Rebellion activists block an intersection in Melbourne, Australia

45/50 6 October 2019

Protesters hold smoke grenades as they gather in central Kiev to demand broader autonomy for separatist territories, part of a plan to end a war with Russian-backed fighters
Anti-government protesters rush to an injured man during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq
Footage of a hugely rare polka dot zebra has been captured in Kenya. The foal was photographed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve

48/50 3 October 2019

A devotee dressed as the Hindu deity Maha Kali performs during Navratri festival celebrations in Ajmer in Rajasthan state, India

49/50 2 October 2019

A gust of wind lifts the cassock of Pope Francis during the weekly general audience at St.Peter’s square in the Vatican

50/50 1 October 2019

Protesters clash with an Iraqi riot police vehicle during a demonstration against state corruption and poor services in Baghdad

The ICJ, in an advisory opinion issued in 2004, said Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, were established in breach of international law.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also rejected the Trump administration’s new stance, which was announced by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, called Mr Pompeo’s declaration a “huge achievement” that “fixed a historic wrong”.

Mr Netanyahu travelled to Alon Shvut, a settlement outside of Jerusalem, on Tuesday where he spoke to a group of right-wing Israelis. “I think it is a great day for the state of Israel and an achievement that will remain for decades,” he said.

The Palestinians, who claim the West Bank as part of a future state, condemned the decision. They and other countries said the move undercuts any chances of a broader peace deal.

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Over 400,000 settlers now live in the West Bank, in addition to more than 200,000 settlers in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian’s hoped-for capital.

Mr Trump has also made a succession of pro-Israeli initiatives. These include recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, moving the US embassy to the city in 2018 and cuts in aid to Palestinians. In March, Mr Trump recognised Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967.

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“This changes nothing. President Trump can’t wipe away decades of established international law that settlements are a war crime,” Andrea Prasow, acting Washington director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Philippe Nassif of Amnesty International said the construction and maintenance of the settlements breached international law and amounted to war crimes.

“Today, the United States government announced to the rest of the world that it believes the US and Israel are above the law: that Israel can continue to violate international law and Palestinians’ human rights and the US will firmly support it in doing so,” he said in a statement.

Ryvka Barnard, senior militarism and security campaigner at War on Want, said: ”Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are a clear and unequivocal violation of international law, whatever the Trump administration claims. This is an attempt by a far-right government to legitimise the war crimes committed by another far-right government.

“Settlement building entrenches Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank. It’s a part of the dispossession of Palestinians, the theft of their land, and forcible transfer of the 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, a war crime under international law.”

She added: “Now is the time for the UK government to be on the right side of history. It must condemn this move in the strongest terms, reaffirm its opposition to Israeli settlements, and end its own complicity by suspending trade with Israel – including the deadly arms trade.”

Additional reporting by agencies