BY RON JAGER—
In recent years, the industry of lies has demonized and delitigitimized the 650,000 “Invisible Jews” who live in over 120 communities beyond the green line. Despite the success of the enemies of Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike in creating a false and biased narrative convincingly portrayed as unquestionable truth, this past week the “settlers” finally had their day in court so to speak, and guess what, the “settlers” are not occupiers, Judea and Samaria is not occupied territory, never has been and never will be. The land known as Judea and Samaria (West Bank) populated by the citizens of Israel has been deemed legal under Israeli law and equally important, under international law. For those of us who have been at the forefront of this struggle, it’s no surprise that the accuracy of our legal status as residents of Judea and Samaria has finally emerged. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of visitors have come to Judea and Samaria and have seen and heard about the huge disparity between what they have been taught to believe as truth about the “settlers”, and what the reality really is. The Justice Edmund Levy report only exposed what we have known for many years.
In a lengthy legal report released this past week by a panel headed by retired Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, the report recommended legalizing most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) including most of what have always been referred to as illegal Jewish outposts. Made public this past Sunday, the 89-page legal opinion was written at the behest of the legally elected government of Israel. The report concludes that the establishment of settlements in the West Bank does not breach international law, and that Jews can legally make their homes in Judea and Samaria. It states that “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and therefore the settlements and outposts are legal, since there is no provision in international law prohibiting Jewish settlement in the area. The report recommends easing regulations on Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria by regulating zoning and planning, halting scheduled demolitions of Jewish homes and to initiate urban and rural building planning in accordance with of Jewish population growth.
The legal panel was comprised of legal jurists recognized and credible in the eyes of the legal community, analyzing in depth the historic and legal precedents concerning
Judea and Samaria. According to the panels conclusion, Judea and Samaria were in a judicial vacuum prior to the Six Day War in 1967. The reason for the judicial vacuum was that the Kingdom of Jordan, which had occupied Judea and Samaria during the 1948 war for Israel’s independence, and did so against the rule of international law. Jordan’s sovereignty was never recognized by the nations of the world. The sole nation in the world that recognized this illegal occupation by Jordan was no other than Great Britain. Since Jordan was not the legal sovereign of Judea and Samaria, the panel concluded, that Judea and Samaria cannot be defined as occupied in the legal sense of the word. Into this judicial vacuum, the former Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court Aharon Barak and others inserted the legal paradigm of “Belligerent Occupation,” according to which military governance draws its authority from the rules of international law in territories that were won in war. The significance is that Israel was incorrectly deemed to be a foreign occupier, and that it doesn’t have the right to apply its sovereignty over, or to move its civilian population into Judea and Samaria
Many if not all of the measures which hostile legal bodies have taken against the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria stemmed from this perception wholly created by our own Chief Justice. These measures, which aimed at strangling the nascent development of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, received justification from the State Prosecutor’s Office due to its adoption of the Belligerent Occupation paradigm. However, with the establishment of over 120 communities comprised of over 650,000 residents, and the return of the Jewish nation to its historical homeland, the “Belligerent Occupation” paradigm has been a resounding failure.
With an eye towards preserving Judea and Samaria for future generations, the panel recommended that the Nature and Parks Authority declare thousands of acres in Judea and Samaria as national parks so as to ensure and facilitate the preservation of natural resources in accordance to accepted international environmental standards, something that has been sorely lacking due to the Palestinian Authority’s total disregard for environmental planning.
The international community has for the last 45 years since the Six Day War always vilified Israel accusing her of occupying Judea and Samaria (West Bank). We in Israel must understand that erasing the perception of Israel as an occupier will remain negligible as long as Israel’s political and judicial systems and our emissaries abroad who project our nation to the world continue to base their perceptions and understandings on outdated and political tainted definitions denying Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria. The Likud government headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu should adopt the conclusions of the Edmund Levy panel meaning that the State Prosecutor’s Office will no longer by able to deny, in the state’s name, the legal existence of the communities of Judea and Samaria and will no longer be able to deny, in the name of the government, and won’t be able to provide a legal backdrop for the destruction of additional communities in Judea and Samaria.
The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today Ron is a strategic advisor to the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org