No Time to Spare: Talking about Israel’s Legal Grounds


west-bank-israeli-_1000389cIf the Israeli building in Judea and Samaria destroys the peace process, then, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU ambassador to Israel, declared just days ago, “Naturally, the blame will be put squarely on Israel’s doorstep.”

Naturally: We wouldn’t expect anything else of the EU.  The issue here is not that this is a surprise, but rather that Israel is being forewarned: The government must consider its official stance now, before that blame has been levied:

It is time for Israel to enunciate a policy that directly addresses her rights.

It is two years since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed a three-person committee, chaired by former High Court Justice Edmond Levy, to examine the situation of the settlements. The Committee’s report – “The Status of Building in Judea and Samaria” – was released on July 8, 2012.

While we have it on good authority that the prime minister was initially enthusiastic about the report, once he began to assess the opposition that was mounting against it, he decided to table it.  In several quarters, this document is viewed as a radical departure from Israeli government policy – a departure that would be highly problematic in the context of the current political situation.

I will argue, however, that – rather than representing a radical departure from Israeli government policy – the report offers a reiteration of what has been normative policy.  The perception that it is radical has been fostered because of the erosion of Israeli positions in the more than 20 years since the onset of Oslo.

Quite simply, the Israeli government has become reluctant to speak out in a forthright fashion in its own behalf.  As a result, not infrequently, government officials have conducted themselves in a fashion that has not been congruent with official policies.

The report has the capacity to pull the government back to where it needs to be. Its conclusions constitute the heart of the matter, and for the moment I would leave all else aside.  The report’s findings, based on historical and legal evidence, are that Israel’s position in Judea and Samaria is sui generis (unique), that Israel is not an occupier, and that the settlements are not illegal.  It further concludes that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to Israel’s situation in Judea and Samaria.

No formal adoption of the report need be called for at this time, fraught as these days are with political pressures.  Rather, the report must serve as a focal point, a tool for invigorating national dialogue on a pressing issue: the matter of Israel’s legal grounds in Judea and Samaria.

This is not a dialogue that can be delayed.  That is the crucial point here.  If Israel does not publicly enunciate her case before the EU draws its inevitable conclusions about Israeli culpability, her position will be far less effective.  For then Israeli claims of rights to the land will appear to be simply a defensive maneuver – a reaction and not a legitimate position.

For the last several months, Israel has been engaged, at least theoretically, in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. During this time, PA officials – who never compromise on their positions – have persisted in demanding that Israel return to the “1967 border.”  They maintain unendingly that Israel is an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem, all referred to as “Palestinian land.”

The international community, perversely intent on appeasing the Palestinian Authority, and motived in no small part by a blatant anti-Israel bias, is more than content to accept the PA claims.  The settlements are “illegal,” we’re told, or “illegitimate,” which comes to the same thing.  Israeli building in Judea and Samaria prevents peace from bursting out.

Yet, rather than addressing the charges head on, the Israeli government responds by speaking about security:  We cannot go back to the pre-1967 temporary armistice line (which is never even clearly identified as such), as it would not afford us with security.  We must retain the Jordan Valley against the threat of jihadist forces approaching from the east.  And so forth.

The Levy Report comes to tell us that this argument is sorely inadequate.  It challenges Israelis to refocus their attention; in the end, it is not the document – which draws on a host of extant sources – that is important, but rather the issue of Israel’s legal grounds.

On November 29, 2012, the UN General Assembly ‒ in response to a petition by the UN representative from “Palestine”‒ passed Resolution 67/19, upgrading “Palestine” to “non-member observer status.”

Reacting to this unilateral action, which contravened Oslo agreements, the Cabinet passed Resolution 5251, prefaced by the following:

The Jewish People has a natural, historical and legal right to its homeland and to its eternal capital, Jerusalem

The State of Israel, as the state of the Jewish People, has a right and claim to areas whose status is in dispute.

Ah, then this is government policy. How unfortunate that this language is not drawn upon as a matter of course in public statements issued by the Israeli government.  How sad that the world at large, not to mention much of the Israeli populace, is unaware of this Israeli policy.

It is imperative that the Israeli government begin to speak in terms of Israel’s legal grounds. There is not a moment to spare.

Arlene Kushner, author, writer, and blogger – www.arlenefromisrael.info – is co-chairing the Campaign to Promote Israel’s Legal Grounds and the Levy Report.

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  • Silver Gonzales

    Given that the EU demands that “west bank” be Judenrein or Jew free (European countries have a history enjoying carrying this our despite the fact that they refuse to relinquish control over their territories; i.e. from Gibraltar to Nouvelle Caledonie to the Falklands), Israel should 1) pay any young Arab Muslima to leave or 2) deport ALL Arab
    Muslims to Syria,
    Jordan, Egypt, Saudi
    Arabia, Lebanon, the UK. France,
    Cyprus, Detroit or Hollywood.
    Israel
    must inter alia, retake the Sinai. The Israelis need a separation from these brutish throwbacks to the 6th century. Palestinians descend from invading Syrians, Egyptians and Saudis. At least 30
    families are named ” Al Masri” the Egyptian. Israel can do
    it, and should do it. The EU is an aging bankrupt land whose economies are on life support from North Sea Oil, gaxprom and Germany.

    • Bert

      Some of the commentators here would make better leaders for Israel than many of those holding office now.

  • Bamaguje

    Israel’s capitulation to Muslim Arab propaganda narrative has been her undoing.
    By going along with land-for-peace deals (Sinai, Gaza) and even negotiating about giving up West bank, she unwittingly gives the impression that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a territorial dispute.
    This is why she has lost much of the international support she initially had when Israel declared independence in 1948 and was immediately attacked by Arab nations.

    Israelis come off as greedy land grabbers against innocent Palestinians when the conflict is mischaracterized as a territorial dispute, which it is not. The West bank is historically, legally and unequivocally Jewish ancestral land. That should be non-negotiable.

    Israel needs to focus world attention on the root cause of the conflict – Islamic antisemitism and hostility to the only non-Muslim nation in the Middle east, which Muslims consider Dar-ul Islam (Islamic territory). Nothing short of destruction of the Jewish nation would satisfy Arabs and Muslims globally.

    Palestinians already have their state – Jordan – which was created in 1922 after the partition of British Mandated Palestine. Palestinians got the lion share (78%) in that partition, while Jews got a meagre 23% including West bank and Gaza.
    Thus by that 1922 partition, which was the last binding international agreement on Palestine, it is Palestinians in West bank & Gaza who are occupiers of Israeli territory.

    • StanleyT

      Great post, thank you. It says it all. Now, if only Arlene Kushner can get the government of Israel to say it too!

    • Tetra

      I had a talk with a Quaker a few years back. Explained to her some salient facts. Got her to admit that it wasn’t a territorial conflict. Then she said, irritated: “Look, I’d just PREFER to treat it as a conflict about land.”

  • 1Indioviejo1

    I never expected Israelis to become craven sycophants to the EU. My preferred image of Israelis is one of Menachem Begin, Isaac Shamir, or Ariel Sharon. Israel must stand up for its rights and to Heck with the U.N.. When the Nazis were murdering Jews who cared? When the Europeans conducted pogroms who cared?

    • Tam

      You are right on that one. Rather than follow the script being written by others it is time for strong, cogent statement and position. The author is spot on in his assessment.

  • https://CrossChek.net/ Donald Edwards

    Perhaps Netanyahu is intimidated by Obama, some PC-ness, and others. In this case Netanyahu seems to be acting a lot like House non-Speaker Boehner.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    Israel should tell the Pal-e-SWINIANS to “F” Off.

    Let the Pal-e-SWINIANS third “intifada” become Pal-e-SWINES Third NAKBA.

  • Texas Patriot

    Western governments are intimidated by the prospects of terror attacks on their citizens, and they want the problem to go away. Historically, Israel has been seen as the cause of the problem, and pressure has been placed on Israel to give up lands to solve the problem. Now, after more than forty years since the Munich Olympics in 1972, there is an increasing recognition that the problem is not Israel, but the philosophy of jihad and territorial conquest inherent in the teachings and life example of Muhammad and his followers.

  • honey

    As I understand it Israel gives the U.S. some of the best intelligence. Why doesn’t Israel stop cooperating and withhold what it knows until the U.S. resumes its official pro Israel position?

  • Cee Gee

    The irrefutable facts presented in the Levy Report should now put an end to the terms ‘settlers’, ‘settlements’, ‘occupation’, and the misnomer ‘Palestinians’ when referring to the Arabs in the territory of Palestine.
    In 1922, the land east of the Jordan River (known as Eastern Palestine) which had originally been part of the original promise of the Jewish homeland (1920), was lopped off by Churchill to create Trans-Jordan (now present day Jordan) for
    Arabs only – an apartheid state. The remaining 23% – all of the territory known as ‘Palestine’ today- was to be the Jewish state (1922).
    Two thousand years ago, the Roman conquerors renamed the Jewish state of Judea as ‘Palestina’ in an effort to cut the emotional ties of Jews to their land.
    Thus, until 1948, Jews were known worldwide as Palestinians when they became Israelis. Even at that time the Arabs did not use the name ‘Palestinians’ but preferred being identified as members of the larger Arab peoples and the countries from which they had emigrated – such as ‘southern Syrians’. Years after 1948 the Arabs decided to adopt the name ‘Palestinians’ for political expediency because the name matches that of the territory which they would like to falsely claim as their being the ‘indigenous people’.
    The Levy Report brings, without a shadow of a doubt, Israel’s legal and historical rights to the land west of the Jordan River and disproves the ‘occupation’ that is claimed by the Arabs and others. The land referred to as ‘the West Bank; (in contrast to the ‘East Bank’) is legitimately known as Judea and Samaria and should be called by its rightful name. Israel has the right to build its communities for its residents (out with ‘settlers’ and ‘settlements’!) and to be respected as a sovereign nation -without the interference of outside meddlers.
    The Arabs who live in Israel as law-abiding citizens share rights with others. Israel is the only country in the chaotic Mid-East that respects all religions and must be secure. The Levy Report should be accepted as the groundwork for that. Arlene Kushner is to be commended for her professional work and an excellent report.