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With regard to Israel, this bit of political wisdom suggests that it is inappropriate for U.S. politicians, whatever their predilections or convictions, to move to the right of the Israeli government on issues of Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).
However remote the possibility of negotiations between the PLO and Israel – however clear the evidence that the Arabs don’t want a negotiated settlement, but want the Jews gone, the notion of a “two-state solution” continues to be the politically correct mantra in the U.S.
As long as that “solution” remains the official position of the Israeli government, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu persists in his calls for PA president Abbas to come to the table without pre-conditions, Republican members of Congress are reluctant to advance positions to the right of what he is saying. Republican policy-makers are waiting for the Israeli government to make the first move.
It is time for Republican decision-makers to move beyond this conventional wisdom. For, in fact, a vast historical opportunity awaits them if they are bold enough to seize it.
What we are seeing is a confluence of events in the U.S and Israel that has significant implications:
In Israel, a 90-page report has been released that is surely destined to cause shifts in the political landscape and has already begun to do so. In January, Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a committee of three to consider the legal status of “unauthorized settlements” in Judea and Samaria. Headed by Supreme Court Justice (ret) Edmund Levy, the committee also consisted of Tel Aviv District Court Judge (Ret.) Tehiya Shapira and Dr. Alan Baker an expert on international law.
After taking testimonies and doing an extensive examination of a host of legal and historical documents, what they have concluded, in brief, is that:
- “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. Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”
- “…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 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.”
The Levy Committee has made recommendations in accordance with its findings, but these recommendations are not binding on the government.
The report was released first to the attorney general, about two weeks ago, and then to the prime minister. He has submitted it to the Ministerial Committee on Settlements for consideration, and in due course it is hoped that there will be an official response from the prime minister and this ministerial committee.
The recommendations might be accepted. It is possible, however, that the prime minister will decide to sit on the report at present, rather than taking a definitive position.
Be that as it may, there has been a significant shift in the political climate in Israel, and there is no way that matters can return to a “pre-Levy report” situation:
“Two-state” advocates are in despair, and some are saying, “OK, you’ve won. Now what?”
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