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October 17, 2012: The Levy Report

October 17, 2012

From where I sit, this is the news of the day. 

Back in January Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a committee — consisting of former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, former deputy president of the Tel Aviv District Court Tchia Shapira, and former Foreign Ministry legal adviser and expert in international law Alan Baker — to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria.

That report was released on July 8.  It offered both conclusions and recommendations.

What the committee concluded was that the decades-long presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria was sui  generis — that is, a unique situation.  That presence does not constitute an “occupation,” and, based on historical and legal evidence, is not illegal.  From the perspective of international law, Israel has the right to build in Judea and Samaria.


The recommendations, which were predicated upon these conclusions, addressed adjustments in Israeli policies and practices in Judea and Samaria. 

As matters stand, Israeli citizens find themselves at a severe disadvantage with regard to land ownership in Judea and Samaria:

At present, law-abiding, tax-paying Israeli citizens who bought their homes in Judea and Samaria in good faith and with the assistance of multiple government agencies can be summarily told that they are without rights to their homes because a signature was missing from their papers.

What is more, if ownership of the land on which their homes are located is challenged by local Arabs, they can be forces to abandon those homes, which will be demolished, before a court has examined the evidence and ruled on who actually owns the land.

These and a host of similar situations are outrages that cannot be permitted to continue.  The Levy recommendations clearly address these situations.


What happened, however, is that the prime minister buried the report instead of adopting its conclusions and recommendations. 

He sent it to his Ministerial Committee on Settlements for review, and that is where it sat.  There is no question but that there were political implications to these delays.  People on the left — including many Jews in the US — were saying that the world wouldn’t like this position and it would cause problems for us in other contexts. 

Well, I have had it up to the top of my head with what the world might or might not like about our positions. As have many others.  It’s time we stood up for our rights.  


PM Netanyahu has been pressured to accept the report by the right flank of Likud — including, notably by Minister Yuli Edelstein — and by others in nationalist parties.  Now it has been leaked that he intends to submit the report or part of it (not clear what “part”) to the Cabinet for acceptance.  While there has been no official statement from the prime minister’s office, my assumption is that he has calculated that this is the right time, politically, to do this. 

Already, Defense Minister Barak and other politicians to the left are close to having strokes over this report.  The hysteria is breathtaking.  For example, Meretz chair MK Zahav Gal-On accused Netanyahu of “serving the interests of the extreme right wing and of settlers in order to establish apartheid” and maintained that adopting the Levy report would result in “international sanctions.”  What nonsense, and how pathetic, to employ the libelous language of our enemies. 


It falls to all of us who DO support the principles of the Levy Report to be certain that the prime minister knows how we feel: 

[] He must be thanked for his current position

[] Urged to adopt ALL of the report

[] And encouraged to stay strong in the face of the left wing opposition.  

Please! without delay, write to PM Netanyahu. Keep your message short. Avoid history lessons and speeches. Ask him to stand for the rights of Israel by adopting the Levy Report. Tell him you are with him

E-mail: Memshala@pmo.gov.il and also pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore after pm) use both addresses. 

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369) 


I know how easy it is, no matter your intentions, to put this task aside and then forget.  This is important.  Act before you can forget.  

If you are an Israeli citizen who votes, let him know this.  

Share this with as many others as you can, and most especially with Israeli citizens. 


MK Danny Danon (Likud), who has spent time in the States promoting the Levy Report, says that several Congresspersons have gone on record as supporting it. 


For the record:  

While I in no way whatsoever endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state, it’s important to make clear that the Levy Report conclusions do not preclude the possibility of such a state.  This fallacious argument will be used by those on the left as a reason to defeat the Levy Report.  The Levy Report recognizes Jewish rights in the land. It does not recommend establishment of sovereignty over that land.  Adopting the Report does NOT mean establishing sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. 

One reason the declaration of Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria is critically import is because the Palestinian Arabs and all who support them, starting with President Obama, maintain that the Palestinian state must be established on the ’67 line.  This position presupposes that Jews have no rights beyond that line (which was an armistice line, even though it is referred to as a “border”).  The Levy Report makes clear, based on both historical and legal evidence, that this is not the case. 

Certainly accepting the conclusions of the Report requires no legislation.  It is simply a matter of stating, “We have rights.”  As I understand it, many, if not all, of the recommendations can also be instituted without legislation.  We’re looking at policies, not law, in many instances.  No law would be necessary, for example, for the government to decide that homes in which Jews live in Judea and Samaria would no longer be demolished before a court decision on ownership was made.       


There are two significant articles on the Levy Report that I recommend here.  

One — “Reinvigorating the Discussion of Israel’s Rights in the West Bank” —  is by Professor of Law Avi Bell: 


The second — “A Chance to Regain Lost Diplomatic Ground” — is by commentator Evelyn Gordon: 


As you read this material, it becomes clear that the position of the Levy Report is quite modest, not radical at all.  It’s simply that the governments of recent years have slipped from earlier positions. 


About the presidential debate that took place last night, I have very little to say. It doesn’t merit a great deal of analysis and is being seen by many as something of a draw.  

There is only one dramatic moment I want to refer to here.  President Obama was asked why the US did not respond to the request for reinforcements made by security personnel in Benghazi, a request made some two months before the attack on the ambassador. 

The president didn’t answer that question. No good answer exists. What he did was go off on a tangent intended to refute the charge that has been leveled against his government, that it spent a lot of time saying the cause of the attack was an anti-Muslim film.  Declared Obama, in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, he called it terrorism. 

At this point, Romney leaped up and said, What? What do I hear?  You spent two weeks denying it was terrorism. 


Well, only one of these two individuals can be correct here, and it wasn’t difficult to learn who it was.  

I located a video of the statement made by the president in the Rose Garden on September 12. 


He begins by speaking of “Americans killed in an attack.”  Not a terrorist attack.    

Then he “condemns this outrageous and shocking attack.”  Not a terrorist attack.

 He followed this with, “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.”  Senseless violence, not terror. And here we have the introduction of the theme that he maintained thereafter: that a film that “denigrated the religious beliefs of others” was behind the attack.  Not terror.

Then, after noting that the day previous was the infamous 9/11, and referring to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, only then did he say, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation…”  The context was broad, he was not referring directly to the Benghazi attack. 

Barack Obama is a phony, it would seem. But that’s not exactly news. 


One additional note: the debate moderator, Candy Crowley, intervened (inappropriately and incorrectly!), indicating that Obama did call it terrorism — but then saying that Romney was also correct, that Obama had for two weeks blamed it on the anti-Muslim film.  Let’s hear it for an well-informed and unbiased moderator. 


I heartily recommend a piece by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal, “To the Wavering Voter.” 

It debunks all sorts of erroneous accusations leveled at Romney, designed to scare people from voting for him. 



Just briefly: 

Rockets and missiles continue to be launched at Israel’s south.  Most recently, a barrage of some seven rockets was directed at Sderot, with one landing near a kindergarten. The Air Force then responded with an attack on what is being described as a center of terror activity in northern Gaza. 


According to a Lebanese newspaper, Al-Jumhuriya, yesterday, the drone that Hezbollah sent into Israeli airspace was not manufactured in Iran as had been reported.  It was manufactured in Germany and then purchased by Iran.  This information raises several possible questions — including, when and under what circumstances Germany was selling such equipment to Iran; and what this says about Iran’s capabilities. 


Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel has come in peace. 

The letter of credence from Egyptian president Morsi that he presented to President Peres, read: 

“Great and good friend, being desirous of maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries, I have selected Mr. Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed El Ahl to be our ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.” 

El Ahl noted to Peres that Egypt wants to retain the peace treaty. 


In a meeting with EU officials here yesterday, PM Netanyahu said: 

“Israel will consider a military operation if it feels there is a fear that chemical weapons will leak to terrorist groups like Hezbollah.” 

I would most certainly hope so.  That prospect is most worrisome 


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.



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