Israel: West Bank "Disputed Territory" not "Occupied Territory"
France and UK to recall their ambassadors in Tel Aviv
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Look at the map. At the left is Jerusalem; at the bottom right corner box, the Dead Sea can also be seen. Between the Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim and the Dead Sea, the terrain is too steep to allow large settlements. Sporadic monasteries dust the powdered ground; training soldiers walk carefully, trying not to sink in the grey dust, so fine that it behaves almost like a liquid. In sharp contrast, the terrain between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem houses several Palestinian towns. All the names in this area of the map are Palestinian: Anata, Al-Zayam, 'Izriyah, Abu Dis. E1 is the only unbuilt spot in the area. Once built, it will create Jewish contiguity between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, where one of Israel's main industrial centers is located. Once this is achieved, the West Bank will be effectively bisected, splitting the State of Palestine in three non-contiguous zones (Gaza would be the third).
The Levy Committee was headed by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmond Levy; he is the son of prominent Jewish-Iraqi Herut members and openly endorses the ideology of this party. Herut (Freedom) was the party led by Menachem Begin; it became Likud in 1973. Netanyahu’s government set up a committee led by one of its own, as an answer to the 2005 Sasson Report, which had ruled 120 settlements and outposts as illegal under Israeli law. Unlawfulness in the West Bank has various layers. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this. The international community considers Israeli settlements a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory. Israel disputes that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the Palestinian territories as they had not been legally held by a sovereign prior to Israel taking control of them. Israel's interpretation has been rejected by the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The vast majority of the West Bank settlements are in between these definitions; they are considered illegal by the entire world, but legal by the Israeli government. However, sometimes they are considered unlawful even by the Israeli government. The Edmond Levy Report recommended changing this.
The Levy Committee ruled that the State must devise ways to legalize contested settlements and outposts in the West Bank. It recommends easing land acquisition and zoning protocols for Jews residing in the area. This is crucial since many of the purchases are highly questionable. For example, in Migron, most of the land occupied by the outpost belongs to several Palestinian families living in the nearby villages of Burqa and Deir Dibwan. The Associated Press discovered in 2008 that Abd Allatif Hassan Sumarin, who supposedly sold a plot of land to the Binyamin Regional Council owned that Al Wattan Ltd in 2004, had been dead since 1961. A regime sanctioning such crimes renders itself illegitimate; until now nothing was done with the report since implementing it means the annexation of the West Bank by Israel.
Yet, the Speaker of the Knesset said at the abovementioned opportunity that the report should not be officially adopted "because then we will bring the others [the international community] to stand up against us and demand not only the annulment of the report but also the dismantlement of the settlements." This is an intriguing approach for a lawyer, especially considering the troubling way he continued his argumentation. "It will be correct for the government to look at the report and act according to it, without officially adopting it or announcing this to the people and the world." Rivlin also explained why Netanyahu didn’t sign the report: "The Israeli government is in a tough position between holding the "Entire Land of Israel" ideology and pressures from abroad."
Following the UN decision, Netanyahu decided to implement the recommendations though unofficially, blocking legal ways of opposing it. Israel had annexed the West Bank; it doesn't consider it an "occupied territory" anymore. Hiding behind an unbearable silence, the State of Israel has declared war on the State of Palestine.
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