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Simone I. Cohen Scott

Simone Cohen Scott: Grassroots Support for Annexation of Judea and Samaria : Part II – From the Edmond Levy Report to Sovereignty

By Simone I. Cohen Scott, from Jerusalem, posted Feb 14, 2013

The recent Women in Green Conference, at the Guest House in Bayit VeGan, was packed with information and ideas, but that’s not all. As people arrived refreshments were served in the foyer, of a variety and quantity that would have done credit to the synagogues of Winnipeg.  Then, in the auditorium, as over a thousand people scrambled to find seats or even standing room, live classical music was performed on flute by Karni Eldad.

As I pointed out in Part I, presentations were given by government ministers, MKs, rabbis, academics, and other public figures.  In assessing the problem confronting Judea and Samaria, two distinct historical periods since 1967 were identified.  From 1967 until 1992/93, the prevailing trend in these areas was to preserve the status quo.  Communities were built on the assumption that as facts were established on the ground, matters would unfold on their own.  However, with the advent of Oslo and right up to the present, that process has become reversed. Instead of logically proceeding forward, there has been a back-tracking, leading to the present state of confusion. The speakers were optimistic that this second period is coming to an end.
Ideally, Israel ought to have annexed Judea and Samaria and declared sovereignty in 1967, when the area was taken from the Jordanians.  At that time, had Israel incorporated Judea and Samaria into the State of Israel, immediately governing it according to Israeli law, there would have been no vacuum to give time and space to the creeping encroachment of the Arabs onto territory  that never belonged to them. Regarding this ‘creeping encroachment’, last month The Times of Israel reported another example: “While …….scholars and political pundits …….debate the exact meaning of the upgrade… to … nonmember observer …, the United Nations officially changed the way it refers to the body: It’s now the ‘State of Palestine,’ as opposed to merely ‘Palestine’.”
The most concrete of the material at the Conference was presented by Advocate Alan Baker, a former Israeli Ambassador to Canada and an international law specialist. He is one of the three members of the Edmund Levy Committee and he spoke about the recently issued Levy Report. The mandate of this Committee was not political in any sense.  It was convened for the sole purpose of examining the legal status of the areas, and recommending actions within the parameters of binding international contracts and agreements.

The laws of the Ottoman Empire, of Jordon, and of Israel, were thoroughly examined and analyzed by the Committee.  Advocate Baker explained that in 1918, with the end of WWI and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman land in the Middle East was divided between France and Britain.  This division was established at the San Remo Conference, and confirmed in 1922 by the League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations.  The Mandate for the portion of the Middle East called Palestine was given to Britain, with the requirement that it help establish a homeland there for the Jews. In 1947 Britain relinquished responsibility for the Mandate, and the United Nations recommended instead that Palestine be partitioned between the Jews and the Arabs.  The Jews accepted this; the Arabs did not.  In May 1948 Israel declared independence as the State of Israel, and immediately the Arabs attacked from all sides.  By the end of that war, in 1949, Jordon occupied Judea and Samaria. In 1967, in another defensive war, Israel ousted the Jordanians.
An important clarification resulted from part of the Committee’s investigations. In 2006, Ms.Talia Sasson was mandated by Prime Minister Sharon to assess the situation of outposts in Judea and Samaria. These areas were unauthorized by virtue of the fact that necessary paperwork, signatures, etc., had not been completed, and she was to report back on the situation.  Ms. Sasson arbitrarily changed the designation from ‘unauthorized’, to ‘illegal’.  President Obama picked up on this term and insisted on a ‘freeze’, compounding the obstacles preventing these communities from being ‘authorized’.  According to its investigations, the Committee determined that Israel, in point of fact, had legal right to build in Judea and Samaria, and that there is strong precedent for this in international law

The Levy Committee further ascertained that the Jews are indigenous to the regions of Judea and Samaria, and have well established entitlements that cannot be negated or denied.  There are internationally recognized credentials affirming this.  For example, even prior to the San Remo Resolution, signed in Italy at San Remo on April 25th, 1920, on November 2nd, 1917, England’s Lord Balfour signed the Balfour Declaration, a document said to be “Israel’s Magna Carta”, (in a quote by British diplomat Lord Curzon)..  Advocate Baker summarized: “These are legal treaty statements,” and he hoped that“…the new government will seriously consider these realities....”

After the tiny intermission, there was a panel discussion, moderated by Eran Bar-Tal, Economics Editor at Maariv.  The participants put forward and discussed various models for handling problems concerning the Arab population, once sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is declared. (See Women in Green: Part III)

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