In January, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed a committee to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. Edmund Levy, former Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court, headed the committee; its other members were Alan Baker, ambassador and international lawyer, and Tehiya Shapira, retired Tel Aviv District Court judge. Their report, “The Status of Building in Judea and Samaria” was released on July 8, 2012.
The committee concluded that, based on international law, because of both historical and legal factors, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is not an “occupation” or “illegitimate,” and that Israel has the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.
The report recommended that all scheduled demolitions be halted and guidelines be put in place so that communities in Judea and Samaria should be allowed to continue to build and grow.
The report was met with much media attention. Many politicians hailed the report and called for its implementation, but because of political pressure from the United States, it was quickly shelved and never brought before any ministerial committee.
Just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone.
Why is it so important?
The report is of critical importance, now more than ever.
At a time when the international community is once again screaming at Israel to stop the “illegitimate” building in the “Occupied West Bank,” Israel must respond. “It is legal!” We must be able to state that a government-appointed committee, led by the former Vice President of the Supreme Court, concluded that there is no occupation, and that we have legal grounds to live and build in Judea and Samaria.
A recent survey has shown that close to two thirds of Israeli Jews are unaware of Israel’s legal claims to the West Bank, or they believe it to be illegal under international law. That same survey showed that up to half of those would reconsider the eviction of settlements if they believed that they were legal under international law. We must educate the Israeli public about the report, which concludes that our presence in Judah and Samaria is legal.
At a time when Israel is once again at the negotiation table, we must change the perception that the pre-1967 borders are the starting point of any negotiations. The attitude must be that Israel has legal claims to Judea and Samaria, and that anything it relinquishes, it does as the legal owner and not as one returning something stolen.
The 350,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria live without basic civil rights. A growing family cannot add a simple extension to their home. At any moment, an order can be issued for their houses to be demolished. We must implement the recommendations of the Levy report which set in place a process for building and growth in Judea and Samaria and remove the threat of eviction from dozens of communities.
Join our campaign to raise awareness of Israel’s legal rights to Judea and Samaria, and to implement the Levy Report’s recommendations.
See a summary of the legal arguments of the report, as well as its conclusions in English here http://bit.ly/1gaZIxi.