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Simone I. Cohen


By Simone Iris Cohen, November 21, 2013

Last winter in Jerusalem I wrote a series of articles covering the Women in Green Conference,  Mostly it was about the viability of annexing Judea and Samaria, that  portion of Israel sometimes referred to as ‘occupied’ .Indeed these areas were once occupied, but not by Israel.  They were occupied by Jordan in 1949, after Israel’s War of Independence. 


Part II of the series dealt with the Edmund Levy Committee, struck in January 2012 by Prime Minister Netanyahu, to study and ascertain the legal status of these areas.  The members were Edmund Levy, former justice of the Supreme Court, Tehiya Shapira, retired Tel Aviv District Court Judge, and Alan Baker, former Israeli Ambassador to Canada, an expert in international law, and a former advisor to the Foreign Ministry.


Adv. Baker, spokesman for the committee, explained its findings: The laws of the Ottoman Empire, of Jordon, and of Israel, were thoroughly examined and analyzed. Documents verified 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 in 1920, and confirmed in 1922 by the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations).  The Mandate for Palestine was given to Britain, with the specific requirement that a Jewish Homeland be established, as per the Balfour Declaration signed previously (November 2nd, 1917). 


Twenty-five years later Britain relinquished responsibility for the Mandate, and in 1947, (notwithstanding that on March 22nd, 1922, Winston Churchill arbitrarily severed two thirds off to create the brand new Hashemite kingdom of Trans-Jordan),  the United Nations recommended what was left of Palestine be partitioned between Jews and Arabs.  The Jews accepted this; the Arabs did not.  In May 1948 Israel declared Independence as the State of Israel. Immediately the Arab nations attacked from all sides.  When they were defeated, in 1949, a temporary armistice line was drawn, allowing Trans-Jordan to occupy Judea and Samaria. In 1967, in another defensive war against several Arab nations, Israel ousted the Jordanians.


The Levy Committee emphasized that all these are legal treaty statements; i.e. this history is tracked by internationally recognized credentials affirming that the Jews are indigenous to Jerusalem and the regions of Judea and Samaria, having maintained a continuous presence for almost 4,000 years. It puts to the lie a narrative that has been perpetrated since Oslo, that somehow Jewish building in these areas is illegitimate.  Legal purchases by Jews are thrown into doubt, without further investigation, by Arab claims and uninformed NGO’s.

The Levy Report was released on July 8th, 2012, but in spite of the Prime Minister being encouraged by its findings, the 90 page document was shelved without further discussion and fell out sight.  Not to everyone, though.  As a result of attention brought to bear by various Israeli activist groups and nationalist politicians, plans have been in the works to rectify the situation, and a few weeks ago a campaign plan was launched to draw attention to the Report and develop a consensus of acceptance.

The goal is to get the Levy Report in front of the Knesset and have that body declare the Right of Israel to the Land, at the same time generating a broad public understanding of that Right.  “This is what the Levy Report is about.” says Arlene Kushner, one of the campaign planners, in Front Page Magazine. “It lays the necessary Legal groundwork.  It is a vehicle for changing the paradigm.” ):  These plans will be a good fit with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan speech of last October 6th, wherein he emphasized Jewish rights in the land.

The timing of this project will not only give a position of strength to Israel in the current negotiations, but the Report also contains important recommendations regarding Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.  The rights of Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria require clarification.  The default position should not automatically be unfair to Jewish communities there because of political pressure from the international community.

The Campaign intends that an educator will work with the members of the Knesset, as well as organization work which will done to a major extent by Knesset members themselves.  Many Knesset members have been approached informally, and the present government has many ministers and deputies who are nationalist, namely Moshe Ya’alon, Naftali Bennett; Danny Danon, Yisrael Katz; Tsipi Hotovely, Ze’ev Elkin; Uzi Landau; Yair Shamir; Uri Ariel, and Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset.

But wait a minute, Advocate Alan Baker, just in the last day or so, has rebuked Secretary of State John Kerry, about this very thing, the false narrative.  Kerry has been bandying about the urban myth that the communities in these areas, Judea and Samaria, are ‘illegal’.  Baker articulately points out the very things the Levy Report verified, And further, in the letter, Baker unequivocally tells off Kerry (and in so many words the U.S.) for the recent irresponsible remarks made in both Israeli and Arab media: that a ”third Palestinian intifada” would happen if Israel did not conform to U.S. demands.   It’s well worth reading the letter.

Stay tuned!!!

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