Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Hotovely, who is not just a pretty face, is having the Foreign Ministry legal department draw up a legal document establishing Israel’s legitimate claim to Judea and Samaria, otherwise known as the West Bank. I have been advocating this step for years, if Israel makes the claim then we should have the legal documents to prove it. The document being prepared will be submitted for review by top international lawyers and then distributed around the world in several languages by the Israeli Embassies (see http://unitedwithisrael.org/israel-draws-up-document-justifying-legal-claims-to-judea-and-samaria/).
The document will be based on the Report of the Levy Commission, named after Judge Edmund Levy, entitled “Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria,” that was produced in 2012 for the Netanyahu Government. It claims unequivocally that Israel has the legal right to build in those areas, contrary to the claims of Israel’s enemies and even most of its allies. But, their position is mainly political, in that they seek a two-state solution which requires the Palestinians to achieve sovereignty in the West Bank. Therefore they do not want to admit that Israel has any legitimate claim to that land.
The Obama Administration also states often that the settlements are illegal, but they do so not on any strong legal basis, but because this has been the political position of most American Governments since the Israeli war of Independence in 1948. Most Western liberals cling to this view because they want to ensure some land exclusively for the Palestinians in a future putative mini-State. But, although Israel has not so far annexed the territories of Judea and Samaria, pending a negotiated agreement with the PA, as the prospects of this recede due to Palestinian terrorism and intransigence, then the likelihood of Israel annexation increases. Today US Secty of State Kerry also stated that due to the situation a one-state solution now appears more likely.
The Zionist reaction to such a move as annexation of Judea and Samaria is two-fold. First, most Zionists and Israelis are for it, given that this is the heartland of the Jewish people and the claim and relationship is so strong. But, a large minority are against annexation because of the fact that the land comes with another ca. 2.4 million hostile Palestinians. Most Zionists do not want to incorporate such a hostile population into Israel, seeing it as a demographic time-bomb. Several plans have been broached to take care of this problem: 1. The Kahane approach, simply transfer the whole Palestinian population into Jordan or distribute them around the huge Arab world; 2. The Martin Sherman solution, pay compensation to each Palestinian family that agrees to be transferred to their original homeland of Arabia; 3. The Cohen solution, administer a loyalty oath to all Palestinians affected, that they will sign their allegiance to Israel. If they don’t they will then be evicted and forced to transfer. Even if we cannot believe their sincerity, at least then we would have a prima facie legal cause for eviction if they break their commitment. Most countries use such a legal requirement for citizenship, including the USA and UK, and then it can be used to extradite them if they break their signed commitment.
Whatever the outcome in Judea and Samaria, it is about time that the Israeli Government stated clearly and unequivocally its case for the legal right to build in these territories.