Judiciary panel appointed by Netanyahu concludes: There is no occupation
Monday, July 9 2012
A panel formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has concluded that Israel is entitled to settle the West Bank with Jews. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, claims that Israel’s control over the West Bank cannot be seen as “occupation” since no country has recognized sovereignty over the territory. Therefore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents the transfer of a civilian population by an occupying force into the occupied territory, does not apply to the West Bank. Justice Levy recommends that the Israeli government end the temporary status of the settlements and register the settlers’ control over the territory.
You can read the entire report here (Hebrew, PDF). A few quick takeaways:
This position is not new. Although the Israeli Supreme Court did cite the Fourth Geneva Convention in various rulings, Israeli legal scholars and some of their supporters have put forward this interpretation before, as part of an attempt to justify the ongoing colonization of the West Bank and the annexation of East Jerusalem and the surrounding areas (I addressed one such effort here). To the best of my knowledge, this position has never been accepted by the majority of the international legal community, or by major legal scholars.
If anything, I see this verdict as additional evidence of the failure of the legal field’s to contest the occupation. The Israeli left has made a historic mistake by believing that courts can provide a platform for battling the occupation. For decades, human rights organizations have filed hundreds of petitions to the Supreme Court in an effort to stop the ongoing annexation, colonization and persecution of the Palestinian people. As a rule, the courts always approved the colonial practice while placing a few caveats. The Supreme Court allowed settlements, but not on privately owned land; it allowed targeted assassinations, but under certain conditions (which were not adhered to by the army); it allowed construction of the separation barrier on Palestinian land, but then moved it in a few places; recently, it also allowed Israel to use and sell Palestinian natural resources. The court even allowed torture under certain conditions, although this is the one aspect where it actually went a step further and ruled out most of the practices used by the Internal Security Service.
One of the last efforts in the legal battle against the occupation was The Outpost Report, produced a decade ago by attorney Talia Sasson (who later joined Meretz). The report concluded that Israel violated its own rules and its international commitments by allowing and aiding the establishment of new settlements in the West Bank and on private Palestinian land. The government approved the report, but in most cases action against the outposts was delayed. Finally, Israeli NGO’s – in most cases, Peace Now – started filing petitions demanding the return of the land to its owners.
After several court rulings in favor of the petitioners, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to tackle the root of the problem – the Sasson report. This is the reason he formed the new panel. By nominating justice Levy to lead it, the prime minister pretty much determined the outcome – Levy was the single minority justice that ruled against the disengagement from Gaza, declaring that it violates the rights of the settlers. To sum it up, it took the Israeli government a decade to do what most people do in the minute after getting an opinion they don’t like from a legal adviser: they go to another lawyer.
The fact that the Israeli media is taking this report seriously is another testimony to the complete failure of the public political debate here (to be honest, the Sasson report, which separated “legal” settlements from “illegal” ones was not much better. It could and should have served the Israeli bureaucracy, but turning it into a policy report was a bad joke). As any person in his right mind could note immediately, Justice Levy doesn’t address one tiny formality in his report – the Palestinians. The occupation was never (just) about land. It’s first and foremost about the people under military control for 45 years.
…and another win for Jewish exceptionalism. Lovely.
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- verbalresistance said: was just about to post this myself, heh, 972mag on fb, ftw; great minds…
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- imnomuslimsuperman said: what the hell. Can the Palestinians contest this?
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