In failing to adopt (and proclaim) the Edmond Levy Report on the status of Judea and Samaria, the Government of Israel is missing a golden opportunity to assert Israel’s case, loud and clear, regarding our rights in this land under international law.
For decades now, we have swept this vital issue under the carpet, in keeping with “the spirit of Oslo” (“let bygones be bygones”) and with the totally wrong-headed notion, constantly promoted by the world’s “legal experts” and the governments they serve, that the area beyond the armistice line of 1949-67 is “occupied territory” and that therefore, under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Jewish settlements established there are “illegal.”
First of all, the term “occupied territory” can be applied only where there is a previous sovereign nation, which is not the case here, since Jordan’s annexation of Judea-Samaria (the “West Bank”) in 1950 was never recognized internationally, even by the Arab states! (The only two countries that did recognize that annexation were Britain and Pakistan.) Besides, what the Geneva Convention prohibits is the transfer of populations into the occupied territory. The people who inhabit these settlements were not “transferred” there by the government; they settled there of their own free will.
As is stated in the Levy Report, Israel’s rights in this land are anchored in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which, besides recognizing (Preamble) “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “its right to reconstitute its national homeland in that country,” explicitly calls upon the Mandatory Power (Britain) to “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land” (Article 6)
Moreover, under Chapter 80 of the UN Charter, these provisions of the League of Nations Mandate continue to be valid to this day.
The Government of Israel has made it abundantly clear, both publicly and in negotiations with the Arabs, that it will be prepared ultimately to make certain territorial compromises in order to reach a peace agreement. But it must be clearly understood that, if we give up land in Judea-Samaria for this purpose, we will be giving up part of what is rightfully ours – not something that we have stolen from another people! That is why it is so important that we assert our case in no uncertain terms in the international arena. And the Levy Report is eminently suited to serve as the legal tool to achieve this goal.