Just yesterday plans were finalized for launching the first stage of a major effort aimed at securing the acceptance of the Levy Report.
You will find an article about it here:
But I want to take the time in this posting to provide a bit of background and explain what the report is and why it is important.
The Jewish claim to the land of Israel — certainly including all of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria — is solid. It is predicated first on our ancient history in the land. Jews are, in fact, the indigenous people here, having maintained a continuous presence for almost 4,000 years. Our ancient heritage actually can be found not in western Israel, but in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
In addition to heritage, there is solid legal precedent for our claim to the land — via the San Remo Conference, the Mandate for Palestine, and more.
For at least 20 years, however, there has been a concentrated delegitimization campaign waged by the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters that attempts to discredit our rights to the land.
The perception that Jewish rights to the land have been diminished 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.”
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 rarely 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.” 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.
In other places you may read about the “competing” Israeli and Palestinian Arab “narratives” concerning the land. You will not hear that from me. There are not two “narratives” of equal weight that are simply a matter of perspective. There is the truth about the situation, and there is the invented narrative — the deliberate lie crafted for malign political purposes. Regrettably, many of our own leaders have not spoken the truth boldly enough for some time now.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is not ideologically committed to a “Palestinian state.” His problem, rather, is that he is timid before the international community. He prefers to “play the game,” believing — mistakenly — that in doing so he will lessen the pressure on Israel and accrue favor for Israel in the international community.
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.
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. The Report, which was to be referred to the Ministerial Committee on Settlements for discussion, was tabled. 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 (including yours truly) 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. 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. 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.
As the campaign progresses, I will, of course, follow through with additional information.
A word about sovereignty. The committee is certainly not ideologically opposed, but is not promoting this — and takes no position on the specific form it might take — because in our opinion it is premature. There will be no serious action towards sovereignty — either over Area C or all of Judea and Samaria — until the government of Israel first declares our RIGHT TO THE LAND, and there is broad public understanding of that right. This is what the Levy Report is about. It is a vehicle for changing the paradigm of thinking. We believe it lays the necessary ideological/legal groundwork for what will follow.
Readers, please note that we are seeking support in two respects. First, we have a coalition of organizations that are supporting our venture in principle. If you are associated with an organization that would like its name added, or would like information to that end, please contact me.
And then, while sufficient funds were raised to kick this off, additional money is required for an aspect of the campaign that has been added since the budget was drafted. If you are interested in more details and think you might be able to help, please! do contact me.
© 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.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.