by Philip Weiss
The Levy report, the Israeli government’s legal finding that Jews are free to settle in Judea and Samaria because of the League of Nations a century ago, is turning out to be a good wake-up moment. Below are a number of responses. The Yousef Munayyer quote is at the end– “Israel exists in an isolated realm completely separate from the rest of the world.”
In its editorial blasting the report as bad, bad, bad (law, politics, policy), the New York Times rightly glimpses the end of the two state solution:
Palestinian hopes for an independent state are growing dimmer all the time. Israel is pushing ahead with new settlements in the West Bank and asserting control over new sections of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their capital. Meanwhile, peace talks — the best guarantee of a durable solution — are going nowhere….
Now comes another, potentially disastrous, blow.
The Jerusalem Post has done a story on the Times editorial. The Times ends with the statement, “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will have a chance to drive that [anti-settlement] message home when she visits Israel next week.” Somehow I doubt it.
J Street sees just what the Times sees in the report and calls for Israel to renounce it.
Adopting the Levy Committee’s recommendations would be tantamount to condemning all parties to unending conflict under a one-state paradigm. This nightmare scenario would force Israel either to cede its Jewish character to an Arab majority or to invite the world’s unprecedented condemnation and isolation as a profoundly undemocratic state.
Meantime, here is the ADL defending settlements and attacking the UN for seeking to investigate them:
“We have very little faith in the impartiality of those selected by the Human Rights Council to head up its fact-finding mission tasked with investigating Israeli settlements,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The Council’s decision to dispatch a mission of this nature reeks of hypocrisy, and is further tainted by the expressed biases against Israel of those charged with overseeing this latest chapter in the UNHRC’s anti-Israel agenda. Two of the panelists are already on record with distorted statements and reports regarding Israel.”
At the Nation, Robert Dreyfuss ties the Levy report in to a superb report by NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro on the occupation the other day:
As Lourdes’s report notes: “Last year, 1,100 Palestinians — more than half of them children — were displaced, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. And demolitions this year continue at a high rate.”
Here are three responses to the Levy report gathered by the Institute for Middle East Understanding:
MOUIN RABBANI, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, contributing editor with Middle East Report and Jadaliyya, and former Senior Middle East Analyst with the International Crisis Group:
‘Whether or not the Israeli government formally adopts the Levy Report and its insistence that the occupation does not exist, the document accurately reflects Israel’s position on and policies towards the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967. In Israel’s view, the Palestinian people and individual Palestinians have no legitimate title to these territories, Israel and Israelis do. That is why Israel has for decades been treating Palestinians as illegal squatters on sovereign Israeli territory, and the state and its citizens can do as they please.
‘Israel is now just a formality away from wholesale renunciation of international law. In practice it undertook this step decades ago. The most effective response would be one that declares the occupation illegal, and adopts measures to ensure that Levy’s determination that it does not exist becomes a reality.’
NOURA ERAKAT, human rights attorney and adjunct professor of international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University, Legal Advocacy Coordinator for theBadil Resource Center for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights:
‘As a legal matter, the occupied status of the Palestinian Territory has been affirmed by the International Court of Justice, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, countless General Assembly Resolutions, as well as Israel’s own High Court of Justice. The Levy Report’s legal analysis uses outdated and stale arguments to counter this legal reality in order to evade accountability, including for war crimes such as transferring Israeli civilians into the territory it occupies, which is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.
‘Under international human rights law, settlement expansion policies also constitute a grave violation for forcibly transferring, segregating and ghettoizing populations based on their ethnic and racial composition. This practice violates the United Nations Apartheid Convention, specifically articles II(c) and II(d) and constitutes a crime against humanity. The Levy Report cannot wash away these grave and egregious violations of international law with the stroke of a pen.’
YOUSEF MUNAYYER, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund and the Palestine Center in Washington DC:
‘Some might argue that the implications of this report, if adopted by the government, would mean the de facto annexation of the occupied West Bank, thereby ending even the currently fanciful notions of a two-state solution. In reality, long before this report was written, the Israeli government’s behavior has been consistent with an intention never to relinquish the occupied territories. It has settled Israeli citizens in every corner of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, and integrated them politically, economically and infrastructurally into Israeli society for over 45 years, or 70% of the state’s history. It has similarly usurped and monopolized Palestinian resources in the occupied territories in contravention of international law.
‘The Levy Report is the latest and perhaps most clear indication that the State of Israel exists in an isolated realm completely separate from the rest of the world when it comes to its understanding of its relationship with the Palestinians. That the Palestinian territories are occupied is universally understood, except apparently by the Israeli government, as is the illegality of Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise. The report might have implications for internal Israeli politics, which are increasingly appearing to the rest of the world, and even some Israelis for that matter, as operating in a parallel Orwellian universe where occupation is not occupation and colonization is legal. In reality, however, it is merely the most recent byproduct of an Apartheid system attempting to exist in a world where Apartheid is no longer acceptable. The Levy Report is as absurd and detached from reality as the unjust system which produced it.’
Munayyer’s point echoes what Ali Abunimah said on Democracy Now (see our David Samel post) this morning, debating Jonathan Tobin of Commentary. Abunimah sees the report as a desperate measure by Israel to forestall the growing chorus of international criticism. “Israel is trying to manufacture legitimacy for a completely illegitimate violent settler-colonial enterprise…”