The Levy Committee and Israel’s Nixon-esque Rule of Law

The Israeli government’s study that this week found the occupation of Palestinian territories to actually not be an occupation and Israel’s settlement activity to actually not be illegal is the worst kind of absurdity. Its Nixon-esque declarations are such an affront to the rule of law that the only fair summation is “Well, when Israel does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

The opinions of the committee rest on two pillars. First, they claim that since there is no such thing as a Palestinian state and since the territory was never a legitimate part of any Arab state, including Jordan, Israel is not an occupying power. Second, they claim that since “with the knowledge, encouragement and tacit agreement of the most senior political level…such conduct is to be seen as implied agreement.”

Zionists have tried to erase Palestinian history for a long time (Newt Gingrich recently got on that bandwagon with the outrageous statement that Palestinians are “an invented people”), but to argue that what’s going on in the West Bank is not a military occupation violates the senses and basic understandings of law. As Attorney Michael Sfard, the legal advisor to the human rights organization Yesh Din, said yesterday: “Israel occupied the West Bank by armed force and even though Jordan ceded the territory, the international community, via its binding resolutions (such as the Partition Resolution and many others) has designated it for a Palestinian state.”

Wikipedia: The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation.” The International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power.”

The second argument, that the Israeli authorities of the highest order had knowledge and gave tacit consent to settlement activity and therefore, it must be legal contradicts the most fundamental understandings of the rule of law, not of men. As Daniel Kurtzer writes at the National Interest, “It seems the committee has no problem with illegal actions by citizens as long as a senior government official winks, nods and joins in the activity.”

Even Jeffrey Goldberg, ever a defender of Israel, seems to object to this committee’s reasoning. He asks, “if it’s not occupation, then what is it?” A good question. And indeed the logical conclusion of the committee’s report, Goldberg anticipates, is that Israel will have to give full rights and suffrage to the people who live in these territories. But that sort of one-state solution has been vehemently rejected by many in Israel who want a state that is rather exclusively Jewish. “The right-wing wants the land,” he writes, “but not the people.”

The Obama administration has issued a statement condemning the Levy committee’s report. “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters today. But Obama is far too politically pragmatic (read: unprincipled) to do anything substantive to object to this report. Israel will continue to receive billions of US taxpayer money and the right vetoes in the Security Council.

Settlement activity has continued with the full support of the Obama administration. In the past six months alone, according to the UN, there have been 3,437 Palestinians displaced and affected by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As Israel consistently destroys Palestinian homes, “more than 94 percent of all Palestinian permit applications” to build new homes “have been rejected in recent years.”

Before it can have any effect on policy, the committee’s report has to be approved by the Israeli attorney general and then the Israeli cabinet. Since the committee was formed at the request of Netanyahu, who doesn’t believe in Palestinian statehood, we can reasonably predict they will welcome the report warmly. Hopefully, the attorney general will strike it down.

The Levy Committee was conceived in sin to legalize a crime, and it has fully accomplished its mission. Its report is not a legal report but an ideological report that ignores the basic principles of the rule of law. The members of the Levy Committee apparently fell down the rabbit hole, and their report was written in Wonderland, governed by the laws of absurdity: there is no occupation, there are no illegal outposts and there is apparently no Palestinian people either. To that we must say in the words of Alice: ‘This is the silliest tea party I have ever been to.’ – Attorney Michael Sfard

10 thoughts on “The Levy Committee and Israel’s Nixon-esque Rule of Law”

  1. Apparently, Alice has never been in the gallery of the US House of Representatives when it is voting on a pro-Israel resolution.

  2. Here is the real absurdity. I witnessed in Judea two Arab shepherds shooting at each other over grazing rights on public lands. Two Arabs fighting over Jewish land.

    I resent being told that I occupy my own land. I am a Jew, the native and aborigine of Judea. For resent, you can tell all the talkers, from the Arab League to the United Nations, I will protect my property with all the powers I have – including military. For a nation who was forced – militarily – off its land 2000 years ago, we know the pain of being landless, the end is Holocaust, never again.

    Notice I am for me, and for my people, and for my land. I am not against anyone. I am willing to live with the Arabs. But if they are not willing to live with me, they are free to go. I am not leaving my land, at least not alive. Note well that I respect all Arab title under Ottoman Law, all legal settlements are built on untitled State land.

    So the Levy Committee is not Nixonesque in any way, and its conclusions are the decent ones. Yes, indecency is the rule of the world, but not in my house. I will never begin a war, I am anti-war, but when they come for me with guns I will stand and fight. If anti-war means I must die without a fight, I resign. I don't aim to die a poor bastard, I aim to make the other poor bastard die. Then the war is over, and we can go back to peace.

    1. The land you claim as yours was occupied by people who had been living there for centuries, long before the Jews arrived. These people had an established culture, but Abraham said to his people that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying unto him "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Gen. 15:18). Later, Abram said the Lord appeared to him and said unto him "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Gen. 17:8). You claim to the land of Palestine is as false today as it was in Abram's day. Religious zealots from the followers of Jim Jones to David Koresh to Abram all claim that God has spoken in their ear. If you believe any of it, then you are welcome to drink the cool-aid. Stealing land because some man said that he heard God tell him to drive out the legal inhabitants of a land and take it over is theft no matter how you phrase it. I am not Arab, Moslem, Jew, or Christian, but I will remind you Oneeye that you are not the only person in the world willing to fight for your home or your country. What gall! What arrogance to claim another person's land as your own because you read that somebody said that god told him so.

  3. Regarding "Zionists have tried to erase Palestinian history for a long time (Newt Gingrich recently got on that bandwagon with the outrageous statement that Palestinians are 'an invented people')

    Yes, and throughout the last 50 years a number of "Palestinians" themselves have jumped on that 'zionist bandwagon'. For example Zuhair Mohsen, a Palestine Liberation Organization leader stated to the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism. "

    There are many other such candid self revelations by the Arabs who now call themselves "Palestinians." So much for Newt's assertion being 'outrageous'

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