Restoring Israel’s Rights: The Levy Report

American-Israeli journalist Arlene Kushner maintains a blog in which she discusses political, diplomatic and military issues affecting Israel: www.arlenefromisrael.info. She currently also serves in a consultant capacity with the Center for Near East Policy Research.


levy_report_1_0The Jewish people’s considerable rights to the land of Israel are founded upon several bases:

Jews have been on the land for close to 4,000 years, most notably within eastern Jerusalem (where the Old City and the Temple Mount are located), and Judea and Samaria – all places where ancient Israelite heritage is marked.  Jews, in fact, are the indigenous people of Israel, present not only historically, but with continuity over the centuries.

In modern times there are legal precedents for establishing the Jewish claim to Israel: This is with reference to the San Remo Conference, the Mandate for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, confirmed in international law, and more.

These Jewish rights have certainly not diminished over the years.  Yet there is a prevailing perception that this is the case – that there has been a rethinking of what properly accrues to the Jewish State of Israel.  A revisionist perception, we might say.

This perception has been fueled by Palestinian Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts, who – in insisting ad nauseum that Israel’s proper place is behind the “1967 border” – reveal themselves to be major advocates of the dictum that, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Of course this business of a “1967 border” is a lie: there was no border established to Israel’s east after the War of Independence ended in 1949, only a temporary armistice line.  The armistice agreement was not even with a “Palestinian people,” but with Jordan.  Nor did Security Council Resolution 242 require Israel to pull back fully from Judea and Samaria, which was secured defensively during the Six-Day War in 1967.

But why bother with facts when a myth more favorable to the political interests of the Palestinian Arabs can be successfully generated?  Today, a good part of the world believes that Judea and Samaria consist of “Palestinian land,” which Israel must “return.”  The president of the United States speaks in such terms.  Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, called “settlements” (pejoratively), are referred to either as “illegitimate” or “illegal,” and the stumbling block to peace. Eastern Jerusalem, today part of the united capital of Jerusalem under full Israeli sovereignty, is called “Arab Jerusalem.”

It must be noted, however, that this Palestinian Arab myth could not have been successfully generated had successive Israeli governments self-confidently and persistently presented truths to counter the lies. Regrettably, since Oslo, this has not consistently been the case.

While no Israeli government has ever declared Judea, Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem to be “Palestinian land,” some have skirted close to embracing this position by behaving “as if.”  (A subject that perhaps merits a whole other article.) Some Israeli leaders to the left have swallowed the notion in its essence, speaking in terms of what the Israelis owe the “Palestinians.”  Some others are ideologically opposed to any such concept but timid about bucking a position that is politically correct internationally. This requires a determined strength, as significant parts of the international community, e.g., Europe, are predisposed to a pro-Palestinian Arab, anti-Israel position.

The good news here is that we may be about to witness a shift in the situation.

The current Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is not ideologically committed to a notion of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as “Palestinian land.”  He is neither Ehud Olmert nor Ehud Barak.

Rather – with the single notable exception of the Iranian nuclear issue – Netanyahu is a man whose style is marked by a tendency to play along, rather than making waves.  There is substantial reason to believe he has done this, again and again, in the mistaken belief that this will lessen the pressure on Israel and accrue favor within the international community. In point of fact, this is counterproductive.

In January, 2012, Netanyahu appointed a committee – popularly referred to as the Levy Committee – to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. Edmund Levy, former Justice of the High Court, headed the committee; its other members were Alan Baker, international lawyer and former adviser for the Foreign Ministry, and Tehiya Shapira, retired Tel Aviv District Court Judge.

The Committee’s Report, which was released on July 8, 2012, is 90 pages long in the original Hebrew.  (Only summaries exist in English.)  It consists of both conclusions and recommendations and provides legal arguments and research.

The accusations currently being leveled by the international community against Israel as a violator of “international law” because of building in Judea and Samaria are countered by the Levy Report conclusions.  That is, because of both historical and legal factors, the decades-long presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria is not “belligerent occupation.” Israel’s situation is unique (sui generis) and Israel has the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.

The Report then offers a number of important recommendations, consistent with the conclu­sions, regarding adjustments in Israeli policies and practices in Judea and Samaria. These recommendations would clarify the rights of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria, who currently find themselves at a serious disadvantage: The Israeli legal system default there favors Arabs.

At present, law-abiding, tax-paying Jewish Israeli citizens who bought their homes in Judea or Samaria in good faith and with the assistance of multiple government agencies can be forced to abandon those homes, if ownership of the land on which their homes are located is challenged by local Arabs, before the issue of who actually owns the land has been properly adjudicated.

These and a host of similar situations are violations of basic rights for Jews that should not be permitted to continue. Levy Report recommendations speak to these concerns.

I have it from an impeccable source that when Prime Minister Netanyahu first saw the Report, he declared, “Ah, this is just what we need.”

But information about the report was leaked, and Netanyahu, confronting the international furor that would result from its official adoption, did an about-face.  He referred the Report to the Ministerial Committee on Settlements, where it was tabled without discussion.  To this day, it sits in a drawer somewhere, effectively never having seen the light of day.

And so, the Levy Report disappeared from the radar screen of public awareness.  But it was not forgotten by Israeli activists and politicians with a nationalist orientation, who understood its enormous importance.

In the fall of 2012, a small group of seasoned activists formed an ad hoc committee to pursue plans for securing the adoption of the Report by the government. International lawyers and politicians were consulted, the political climate was assessed and assessed again; and plans for a campaign evolved through several permutations.  Persons and organizations of prominence who would lend their names to the campaign were sought (FP editor Jamie Glazov and FP parent organization, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, are both listed).  Additionally, and necessarily, backers to provide funds were secured.

As the plans for the campaign have coalesced over the last few months, the Campaign Committee has become convinced that the timing is right.

This is, first, because of the farcical “negotiations” with the Palestinian Authority.  If there are going to be such negotiations (certainly not advocated by the Campaign Committee) it is important that Israel negotiate from strength, and this means stating Israeli rights without equivocation. There is scant time to delay on this. It’s one thing to concede that Israel “must” withdraw from at least part of Judea and Samaria, because this is “owed” to the Palestinian Arabs, and quite another to say that it is Israeli land by right and any concessions to the Palestinian Arabs would be a matter of choice and discretion.

Then there has been an encouraging shift within the government, with a greater number of ministers and deputies who are nationalist or who tend to be opposed to the notion of a Palestinian state, such as: Moshe Ya’alon; Naftali Bennett; Danny Danon; Yisrael Katz; Tzipi Hotovely; Ze’ev Elkin; Uzi Landau; Yair Shamir; and Uri Ariel. Add to this list Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset.

Lastly, there is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s second Bar Ilan speech of October 6.

(An English translation can be found here.)

Instead of speaking of a “two state solution,” as he had previously, he emphasized Jewish rights in the land.  A change of tone that many consider significant.

And now, at long last, the Levy Report Campaign is kicking off.

The Campaign Committee is operating with the assistance of Regavim, a fine Israeli organization that works “to ensure responsible, legal & accountable use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all…aspects of the land.”  (See http://regavim.org.il/en

The campaign is envisioned in two stages – first within the Knesset and then more broadly within the public domain.

It is so new that neither a name nor a logo are yet in place.  But the services of the educator who will work with the members of the Knesset have been secured.  There will be major social media aspects to this effort, as well as organizational work done within the Knesset – in large part by Knesset members themselves – to generate significant and sustained support for the Report.  Already, members of the Knesset approached informally have expressed considerable enthusiasm.

The goal of the campaign, of course, remains acceptance of the Levy Report by the government. Right now a process is being set in place that will take time to unfold, step-by-step.  It would be foolish and unrealistic to anticipate immediate acceptance.  First the climate must be created.

The Campaign Committee believes this effort will provide support for the prime minister, so that he is bolstered from within the nation – and thus better able to resist outside pressures.  As well, the campaign should, in time, shift public perceptions regarding Israel’s rights.

If all proceeds well – something to be fervently hoped for – there will be subsequent reports following this first announcement.

Full disclosure:  Arlene Kushner was a member of the ad hoc committee that initiated the campaign for the Levy Report, and remains an active member of the Campaign Committee today.  She is an author, freelance journalist, and blogger, whose material can be found at www.arlenefromisrael.info.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • judith76

    Outstanding. Where has this article been circulated in Hebrew?

  • David2000

    It really is pathetic that the Levy Report has not yet been presented to and adopted by the Knesset.

    I have yet to see any detailed rebuttal of the Levy Report by any legal commentators. It has been painstakingly prepared and establishes without any shadow of doubt the right of the Jewish people to close settlement in the West Bank and Gaza under article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter.

    Arlene – one omission by you is the Treaty of Sevres signed in 1920 after the resolutions adopted at the San Remo Onference earlier that year.

    You are on to a sure winner with the Levy Report.

    • mikep1738

      The Treaty of Sèvres was annulled in the course of the Turkish War of Independence and the parties signed and ratified the superseding Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

      • David2000

        mikep1738

        You are quite correct.

        However article 16 of the Treaty of Lausanne provided:

        “Turkey hereby renounces all rights and title whatsoever over or respecting the territories situated outside the frontiers laid down in the present Treaty and the islands other than those over which her sovereignty is recognised by the said Treaty, the future of these territories and islands being settled or to be settled by the parties concerned.”

        The Principal Allied Powers had already proceeded to implement their intentions regarding creation of the Mandates for Syria and Lebaon, Mesopotamia and Palestine as laid out in the Treaty of Sevres and their actions were unaffected by the subsequent execution of the Treaty of Lausanne – as Article 16 made very explicit.

        Their actions in doing so were unanimously endorsed by all 51 member states of the League of Nations.

        The Arabs have never accepted this binding body of international law. It has caused both Jews and Arabs lots of death and suffering over the last 90 years.

        Until the Arabs acknowledge that they are legally bound by these decisions of the international community the conflict is set to continue.

        • mikep1738

          It sheds light on the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict to delve into the reason for the Arab rejection of International law regarding allocation of a tiny sliver of former Ottoman territory for a non-Islamic sovereign state. One could accurately characterize the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Jihad against a non-Arab/non-Islamic state on what the aggressors consider Arab/Islamic land.

          • Sol3

            That is of no moment now !!!

  • Raymond_in_DC

    “But information about the report was leaked, and Netanyahu, confronting the international furor that would result from its official adoption, did an about-face.”

    The international community seemingly has no tolerance for any Israeli assertion that “We have rights too” – thus opposition to release of the Levy Report. Israel is expected to accept both discriminatory treatment and the international “community’s” narrative, or else. That was the message of said community’s pressure on Israel to “submit” to a review of its human rights record before the kangaroo court of the UN – it’s Human Rights Commission. Such pressure came from the US too. Reports out of Israel say Germany, of all countries, submitted a personal warning to Netanyahu that if Israel didn’t “submit” there would be “severe” diplomatic consequences. Israel is submitting.

    • defcon 4

      Germans supporting Islam0nazis and suppressing the rights of Jews? Who woulda thunk it?

    • Robert

      The next time someone tries to pressure Israel into a less-than-worthless give-away of land for empty promises of peace, they SHOULD respond that it is not the place of any mere mortal to try to pressure the covenant descendants of Abraham into giving away Yahowah’s land to his, and their, mutual sworn enemies.

    • Sol3

      In 1948, even the US OPPOSED the creation of a Jewish State although, immediately after, Truman recognized Israel at the urging of a close Jewish friend. Broadly speaking, there has never been any “Place” in the world for Jews. And even now, the “World” resents that the Jews may have and do have a place of their own.

  • muchiboy

    One nation,two peoples,three religions.You have my support.Bring it on!

  • sustapha

    You (the present Jews) do not have any claim and right other than that Right given to you by the G-d and L-rd of Abraham in the Qur’an. It is you who do not want your Land for you keep on sponsoring insulting Muhammad.

    • iluvisrael

      Go take a loose, steaming dump in your koran rag head.

    • Softly Bob

      The God and Lord of Abraham had nothing to do with the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran was dictated by Mohammed who made half of it up and the other half came from a demon (a fallen angel). Therefore the Qu’ran has no authority. Muslims are being fooled by Satan. The Qu’ran is a big lie and is one of the worst books ever written. Every copy of the Qu’ran should be burned or used as toilet paper. The fact that Muslims believe the Qu’ran shows just what idiots they are.

      • sustapha

        How I wished you have read the UN charter 13 on education. If you do not believe in the Qur’an – your predicament and failure to get Jerusalem-I hope you believe in that charter. Then you are not supposed to comment.

        • Bklyn Farmer

          ” your predicament and failure to get Jerusalem”
          NEW FLASH Mohamed, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Now go back to kissing your camel.

        • alexa44

          A non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. to Article 80 of the UN Charter, preserves intact all the rights granted to Jews under the Mandate for Palestine, even after the Mandate’s expiry on May 14-15, 1948.

          • sustapha

            Be civilized and know that it was the then Levites did not request for Jerusalem but rather Khaybar and they were given by Muhammad. No Jew can claim superiority over the Levites. So blame your forefathers who had more camels then Muhammad

          • alexa44

            No Jews can claim superiority ….? LOL
            I see you are one of those who say we Jews are not really Jewish.

          • sustapha

            Tell us about the ten lost tribes.

          • alexa44

            Like I thought LOL

    • defcon 4

      Yes, allah himself gave the land to the Jewish people, so get the F@#k OUT!

      • sustapha

        Are Jews supposed to have a land of their own? Are the Levites not the only surviving race? Am I ignorant?

        • David2000

          Muslims have 57 countries. Why would you deny the Jews the right to have just one country?

          • sustapha

            Why did the then Jews loose Egypt? Whose fault of the twelve tribes? Let us trace history for the future. You hate the Qur’an for its historical ART.

          • alexa44

            Egypt wasn;t the Jews to begin with so they lost nothing. WE don;t belive in the quran we are jews .

          • sustapha

            Why are you westerners and europeans in this forum ignorant of written history? What is the index of civlization? Probably you have no religion.

          • alexa44

            Ignorant of history? do tell us what history is that. What has my religion to do with it. I am a Jew I don’t belive the Quran . respect our religion and our right to belive what ever we want.

        • Bklyn Farmer

          “Am I ignorant?” – YES!!!

          • sustapha

            Can a Jew be ignorant?

        • Sol3

          YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • alexa44

      God gave the land to Avraham in the Jewish bible the Torah. We don;t belive in Muhammad.

      • sustapha

        Then you do not believe in Abraham

        • alexa44

          I am a Jew Avraham is the father of the Jewish people. What has Muhammd to do with Avraham

    • Gee

      We haven’t insulted that pedophile thug enough

      • sustapha

        Is this what your prophets taught you?

    • mikep1738

      Muhammad insulted his cult of followers with words and deeds as expressed in Islam’s holy scriptures. The bloodthirsty barbarians who kill in the name of Islam for insults real and imagined are the ones who live by his example and the dictates of their holy scriptures. The more a Muslim is peaceful and kind, the more he rejects the basic teachings of Muhammad. Well, that is if one is to believe what is spoken, written, teachings, and deeds of Islamic activists. Or we can all pretend they really don’t mean it.

      Insulting Muhammad (tough to insult someone dead) has nothing to do with Jews regaining their sovereignty from invaders. The exercised their right under intentional law (1920 San Remo Conference) to declare sovereignty over land formerly of the defunct non-Arab Ottoman Empire which owned it for 400 years. For additional hundreds of years it was controlled by the non-Arab Mamluks. The last time it was governed by the indigenous people was during biblical Israel. There is no evidence to support any other claim. Lest we forget, there is no mention of a non-Jewish sovereign state of Palestine or a Palestinian people in recorded history for at least 400 years. PROVE ME WRONG OR STOP YOUR PATHETIC PROPAGANDA.

      • sustapha

        Let us be objective and civilized and stop being idiots and myopic. What do you know about Muhammad who Jesus son of Mary named Ahmad- most commendable. The then Jews insulted Moses that he has a scrotal hernia. Muhammad cleared him of that defect in the Qur’an.
        Now, regarding killing, it was the Levis who first killed their brothers when the G-d of Abraham commanded them. I believe in the Torah (not the bible) and the Injeel (not new Testament) and all that is good in them is also in the Qur’an. Now Muhammad never allowed the manufacture of arms. Jesus prohibited his followers from carrying arms. Moses never allowed murdering one. Now who is to blame for manufacturing arms? Certainly Muhammad!
        The status of the followers of Muhammad is that of the Levites. They were not given territory. Muhammad and his followers forfeited all their belongings in Makka. So the question of territory is the hunger of the then Children of Israel for their land was divided into twelve with six safe towns in addition. Let us go by Torah for peace. PLEASE WHITE PEOPLE, MANKIND (WORLD) IS EQUAL IN PURSUIT OF (READING) EDUCATION AND THINKING. THINKING MAKES ONE GENTLE LOVING KINDHEARTED AND MERCIFUL.
        Semi-education breeds intolerance and hatred. Let us start our history from Sunday. Where were you from Sunday to Thursday?

        • mikep1738

          My mistake sustapha. I should have mentioned that your predictable response would be to change the subject to avoid directly addressing the points contained in my comment. Typical diversionary tactic when the topic exposes your diatribe to be uninformed baseless propaganda. I have to admit that you surprised me by the slimy part about race. Try a reply about the millions of cowardly terrorists and their sympathizers whose murderous actions they justify by quoting Islamic holy scriptures or their sense that the all-mighty creator of the universe needs them personally to defend real or imagined insults. What kind of sick theology results in such actions regardless of education or culture?

          Then, just for fun, try commenting about the Levy report in concrete terms base on international law. LOL

  • Jeff Ludwig

    We need the Levy Report.

  • boldeagle1

    This is promising news. For years I and others have waited for Israel to point out the legality of Jews being in Israel and all of Jerusalem. The other side is demanding land while there is no legal basis for their outrageousness.

  • Gee

    What I find so ironic – is the fact that it is the Arabs that do not have any legal claim to the land. Not one single law or treaty supports their claims.

    Yet the entire laps up their Goebbels-istic lie that it is Arab land – it’s not and never has been

  • SteveP

    Proponents of the Levy report argue that it strengthens Israel’s case in
    negotiations with the Palestinians. I would argue that just the
    opposite is true and that the absolute last thing Israel needs to do is
    officially claim sovereignty in the West Bank. Let’s take a look at the
    facts. The Palestinians pay lip service to the idea of peace and a two
    state solution, to placate Western liberals and keep foreign aid
    flowing; but their ultimate goal has always been one Arab state, from
    the river to the sea. The only two ways to achieve this goal is through
    conquest or convincing some international legal forum (say the UN) to
    recognize their legal claim. To date the conquest option hasn’t worked
    so well; and despite their best efforts, they haven’t been able to make a
    convincing legal case either. So it would seem the Palestinians are in a
    bit of a bind; unless of course Israel is stupid enough to make their
    case for them. Enter the Levy Report which purports to make a very
    convincing case for an Israeli state from the river to the sea. Now
    that’s a distinction without a difference if even their was one.

  • Homer

    “You’re not even Semites, you don’t belong in the Middle East.”
    So, De Shawn, you want the Middle East to be “Judenrein”? It is clear that you are the racist, the nazi and the supremacist you imagine the jews to be. You only speak for your dumb and perverse self, not for “the whole world”.

  • Gettingby

    So, you are Frontpage Mags resident troll. Every word you write is crap!

  • iluvisrael

    Happy eternal nakba boy! When your useless a$$ is rotting in hell, Israel will be thriving!

  • Softly Bob

    You’re a sad Satan-kissing little jerk. I pity your soul.
    The thing is, nobody here believes your lies, so every word you type is a waste of your time and one small step towards your own damnation.
    There is NO Jewish supremacy. You’re a weak deluded idiot. Yes, weak, pathetically weak and blind. Anti-Semites like yourself always come to a nasty end. Look what happened to Hitler. You’ll never win an argument on here, because lies never win against the truth, but if really have no life and want to keep wasting your own time then feel free to do so.