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Simone I. Cohen Scott

Simone Cohen Scott : Examining the Possibility of Israeli Annexation of Judea and Samaria

Part I – Women in Green

By Simone I. Cohen Scott, Jan 7, 2013

Israel is certainly different from Canada. Last week, in Jerusalem, I attended the Women in Green Conference entitled ‘Application of Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria’. In Winnipeg, whenever I suggest that Israel should annex Judea and Samaria, I get a curled lip in response, eyes rolled upwards, or a smirk that translates, “How stupid!” I can never ask why, because they walk away. So naturally I was delighted to see that here in Israel, unlike in the Diaspora, the idea is not considered stupid or naïve.
This Conference, presented by Women for Israel’s Tomorrow, was to have been held at the Bible Lands Museum. Registration was so large the venue was changed to the Conference Hall of the Bayit Vegan Guest House, where a crowd of over a thousand could and did assemble. Even so, people stood at the back and around the walls. The Conference was in Hebrew, with headphones for simultaneous translation into English. Specially arranged transportation brought people from all over the country.   The Conference was co-sponsored by Just Peace for Israel and the Jewish
The idea of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria was introduced at the previous Women in Green Conference, July, 2012, held in Hebron, (the City of the Patriarchs). Overwhelming  response to that one resulted in this, third, one, just half a year later.  After a short film of the Hebron event, welcoming remarks via live broadcast from Tel Aviv, were brought by Ms. Geula Cohen, Israel Prize Laureate. Ms. Cohen was a member of the Knesset from 1974 to 1992, serving on, or Chairperson of, almost every Committee. (She goes back a long way in Israel’s history. In a Hollywood movie produced in 1949, ‘Sword in the Desert’, Ms Cohen is portrayed as a radio broadcaster in the British Mandate of Palestine.) Ms. Cohen told her audience that the legislation she introduced and shepherded through the Knesset in 1996, establishing sovereignty over the Golan, and over Jerusalem, did not cause the sky to fall, “…and it won’t fall this time,” she added.  
The founders of Women in Green then opened the conference. Actually, Nadia Matar and her mother-in-law Ruth Matar founded the organization but after the forced evacuation of Gush Katif, when then Prime Minister Sharon contravened his own election platform, Ruth Matar retired, and was replaced by Yehudit Ketsover.   These two women, Ms. Matar the younger, and Ms. Ketsover, are the heart of the organization. The essence of what they said, by way of introducing the topic, was that establishing sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is no longer an option, but is based on reality. “There are 400,000 Jewish people living in Judea and Samaria,” they said. “The recent Levy Report makes clear the legal right of Israel to the entire Land of Israel, and the governmental process of applying sovereignty over it should be approached with determination, not apology.” They went on: “ It is not a question of whether it should be done, but of how it should be done,” The entire focus of the Conference was a discussion of how to proceed.
Participants were: Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs; MK Yariv Levin, Chairman Knesset House Committee; Moshe Feiglin, Chair of Jewish Leadership in the Likud; MK Zeev Elkin, & MK Prof. Arieh Eldad, both Chairs of Knesset Eretz Israel lobby; former MK Elyahim Haetzni; and public figures Caroline Glick, Senior Editor at the Jerusalem Post; Dr. Martin Sherman, founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, and notably, Advocate Alan Baker of the Edmond Levy Committee, which firmly establishes the bona fide credentials of Israel in Judea and Samaria. Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Former head of the Rabbinical Courts, HaBayit HaYehudi, gave the biblical and spiritual perspective. A panel discussion followed the speakers and was moderated by Eran Bar-Tal, economics editor at Maariv.
This is an impressive list. With so many MKs participating, Prime Minister Netanyahu must be well aware of this swing in attitude. Various suggestions for the process of how this could and should be done were presented, optimistic that sooner or later sovereignty should, and will, happen.   Several interesting and relevant themes emerged from the ideas put forward.. Frequently the speakers’ remarks were met with rousing applause. Generally, it was conceded that the proposed actions needed to be done gradually, in small increments, rationally, not emotionally. Rightist thinking,--- it should all be done in one fell swoop---, was to be discouraged, as was leftist thinking—let’s give away more. One of the first, balanced, pro-active steps, it was agreed, was this very Conference. It is hoped the conversation being generated amongst the populace will succeed in putting the topic on the Knesset agenda.
The title of the panel discussion was ‘The Status of the Arabs after Israel applies Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria’. When introducing the members, Caroline Glick, columnist, senior editor at the Jerusalem Post, and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs for the Center for Security Policy, addressed the oft-heard concern that incorporating Judea and Samaria into Israel would result in Israeli Jews being demographically overwhelmed.  She pointed out that birthrates are shifting, and she anticipates a population of two Jews to each Arab. “This turned out to be the case in Jerusalem and the Golan,” she said.  
In Part II, ‘From the Edmond Levy Report to Sovereignty’ I will particularly focus on the remarks put forward by Alan Baker about the Levy Report, as that is the concrete foundation upon which a case for sovereignty will be built.
                                                                          From Jerusalem, January 7, 2013.
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