By William Mehlman
“In a time of universal deceit,” George Orwell wrote, “to tell the truth is a revolutionary act.” The opening note in just such a revolution in Israel may have been struck with the issuance in July of an 89-page investigative report confirming beyond reasonable doubt the international legality both of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and that of its 120 communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
The report is the product of a three-member blue-ribbon panel headed by retired High Court of Justice magistrate Edmond Levy and including former Foreign Ministry legal advisor Alan Baker and former Tel Aviv District Court Deputy President Tchia Shapira. It was commissioned by Prime Minister Netanyahu in January, ostensibly to guide him through the legal thickets raised by the allegedly unauthorized “Outpost” construction which has fueled the demolition of Jewish homes in places like Amona and Ulpana. The resultant Levy Report, as it has become known, went a lot further. It not only recommended transforming the outposts, wherever possible, into new settlements, it blew the almost universally accepted canard that Israel is in “occupation” of Arab real estate in Judea and Samaria clear out of the water.
The laws of occupation “as set out in the relevant international conventions,” the Levy panel’s findings asserted, “cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historical and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades. Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal.” Punctuating these findings with a calculated rap across the knuckles of both the current Israeli government and its predecessors, the panelists added that “we wish to stress that the picture that has been displayed before us regarding Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria does not befit the behavior of a state that prides itself on, and is committed to, the rule of law.” The tinkling sound discerned in the background was the illuminati breaking the dishes.
While it was Mr. Netanyahu who set the Levy panel in motion, the impact of its findings and recommendations on Israeli policy remains distinctly moot in the face of an immediate State Department re-rejection of the “legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity” and opposition to “any effort to legalize settlement outposts.” Will the prime minister have the courage to remove adjudication of Arab land claims in Judea and Samaria from a High Court of Justice highly deferential to the views of a far left cabal of bitterly anti-settler journalists, academics and NGOs to a special tribunal tasked with examining the validity of those claims and making their data public, as recommended by the panel? Is he prepared to make it clear to his defense minister, Mr. Ehud Barak, that in accordance with Levy, construction within the bounds of existing settlements will henceforth be permitted to proceed without further government or ministerial approval and that there will be no prohibition on construction in Judea and Samaria within the bounds of settlements built on land seized by military order? Will he call a halt to the demolition of Jewish homes on land whose status remains unclear, pending the exhaustion of all avenues for the granting of building permits? On these and other Levy recommendations, the jury is likely be out for some time.
Bill Mehlman leads Americans for a Safe Israel, (AFSI) in Israel.