Committee confirms: Judea/Samaria is not "occupied" territory
Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who heads a committee tasked with examining the legality of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, declared on Tuesday that Israelis have a legal right to settle the region.This news has predictably gotten the left in a tizzy, to which I can only reply that they should ashamed of themselves for going the cliched route of accusing the retired judge of being a "rightist tool".
"According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority," Levy stated. "Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal."
The committee was established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in efforts to determine and cement the legal status of the outposts in Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on communities that were not built on privately owned Palestinian land but their status was still in doubt due to legal bureaucracy.
The committee issued its report on Tuesday, which was subsequently handed over to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. In the report, Levy wrote that "upon completing the committee's tasks, and considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of 'occupation' do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel's decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria."
"Likewise," the report said, "the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn't intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria."
Steven Plaut says:
A fascinating development this week in Israel was the release of the report of a governmental commission whose assignment had been to define the legal status of the “occupied territories” for purposes of government policy. The commission was headed by Edmond Levy, an interesting former Supreme Court justice and one of the only ones who is not a judicial activist leftist.And Tzipi Hotovely says:
The Obama people are upset with the report (an indication of how good it is) and Israel’s moonbat Left is positively wetting itself in anguish.
Basically the report says that the West Bank – Judea and Samaria – are not occupied territories at all but, at most, disputed territories, something like the US-Canadian border areas were during parts of North American history.
As such, there is no reason why Israel cannot build there and even seize land there under eminent domain.
There is nothing in international law that would make settlements “illegal.” And they should thus be proclaimed by Israel to be completely legal. Whether or not Israel builds settlements then becomes a matter of Israeli interests and policy, not legal obstacles.
Several historical opportunities stand before the Netanyahu government.Read the rest, and see also this article that tells she's going to submit a bill for adopting the report's findings. This is something the government must definitely work on adopting as part of the legal structure so that Israel's citizens can find a decent residence without legal/political problems. Update: see this posting on Israpundit too.
The issue of enlistment is one, but no less important is the opportunity to completely overhaul the management of Judea and Samaria.
The Levy Report established de facto that it is no longer possible to treat the legitimate settlement of Judea and Samaria as a misbegotten stepchild, a wild west twilight zone in which the Jordanian and Ottoman registries are recorded willy-nilly while the secretive veil of the Defense Ministry hovers above, ruling the territory through the civil administration.
After almost half a century of settlement in Judea and Samaria, it is impossible to continue building without a systematic and reliable Israeli land registry. Rather than depend on the goodwill of the defense minister, who can currently prevent the building of public institutions and new neighborhoods with his signature, it is imperative to restore responsibility to the government so that it can build according to its desire. This will be possible once the government has before it a systematic land registry that will allow for settlements to expand and not be blocked due to political factors unrelated to land purchases.
The legal battle is the last stronghold of the leftists, who understand they cannot simply overrule the majority of the public who support the settlement enterprise. When the public votes the Likud into power, it expresses its desire to continue the pioneering and Zionist enterprise in Judea and Samaria. We cannot allow “Peace Now” the right to control the building process. This responsibility is entrusted to the government alone.
However, without a systematic registry, residents time and again fall victim to the legal traps set by the Left’s attorneys.
The latter fight against the settlements by means of the Jordanian registry, mostly fictitious, allowing them to falsely claim ownership in the name of petitioners who never knew they were the proprietors and never claimed ownership for over 40 years.