Justice Edmond Levy, who was appointed by PM Netanyahu to head a committee to review the legal status of the settlements, has issued an extremely important statement (my emphases):
Israel must legalize the majority of illegal West Bank outposts, a committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to review the legal status of such communities recommended, Ynet learned Monday.
The panel, headed by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmond Levy, also ruled that the State must devise ways to “ease land acquisition and zoning protocols for Jews residing in Judea and Samaria.”
The Levy Committee, formed in January and comprised of Levy, Tel Aviv District Court Judge (Ret.) Tehiya Shapira and Dr. Alan Baker an international law expert, who was part of the team that devised the Oslo Accords, met harsh criticism from the Left, which claimed it was biased.
That’s rich coming from the Left, since the esteemed Talia Sasson joined the extreme-left Meretz party at the time she issued her damning report. It seems that what is sauce for the goose is not saucy enough for the gander – as we see below.
The committee’s findings stand to significantly change the legal reality in the West Bank, especially when compared to the 2005 Sasson Report on construction in the West Bank, which deemed 120 outposts as illegal.
Tackling the issue of sovereignty, the Levy Committee ruled that in its operations in the West Bank, “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law.”
The ruling is based on the fact that “no other legal entity has ever had its sovereignty over the area cemented under international law,” the committee said, adding that the latter included Jordan, which ruled the area prior to the Six Day War.
West Bank settlements are legal since that is no provision in the international law that deems that having Jewish population in the area is illegal, the report added.
As for the matter of Israeli construction in the West Bank – and especially the question of illegal outpost – the committee ruled that the State must find a way to legalize and regulate the construction.
West Bank settlements and outposts were created as the State’s bidding, the report said, and the settlement movement was encouraged to continue its mission.
The report further urges the government to regulate the outposts’ municipal status, enable natural growth, accelerate the regulation of zoning and planning and refrain from executing any demolition orders pending further legal review.
Justice Levy criticized the “lack of clear government direction and policy” in regards to West Bank settlements.
“The conduct we discovered vis-à-vis the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria is unbecoming of a nation that has made the rule of law one of its primary objectives,” he wrote.
Sadly there is a fly in this ointment:
Still, the committee’s recommendations are not mandating. Netanyahu is likely to ask the Ministerial Committee on Settlements to review the report.
I don’t trust Netanyahu and his advisers as far as I can throw them. I suspect these findings will end up buried in committee.
In complete contradiction to the findings of the Levy Committee, James Crawford, an”international law expert”, has provided his legal opinion that a trade ban on Israeli settlements is fully permissible.
European governments, including Britain’s, have received legal opinion from a leading international counsel who argues they would be fully within their rights to ban trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The formal opinion from James Crawford, professor of international law at Cambridge University, is likely to inject fresh momentum into campaigns in the United Kingdom and elsewhere for a ban, at a time when some EU member states are examining ways of hardening their position on the imports of settlement produce.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law, a position upheld by all EU member states.
These EU members states need to read Justice Edmond Levy’s opinion above, read the San Remo Conference resolutions and take a look at the maps of Palestine from the San Remo conference rather urgently. They are talking out of their hat. Further, they need to read Judge Eugene Rostow’s opinion (he helped to formulate UN resolution 242) of the legality of Israel’s capture of the territories in 1967.
Back to the Independent article:
In particular the opinion will be seen as challenging received wisdom in official circles that for a state such as Britain to ban imports of settlement produce, or prohibit banks from financing settlement activity, would contravene European or global trade law. Professor Crawford says in his 60-page opinion, shown to senior officials of EU member states in the past few months and seen by The Independent, that “there do not appear to be any EC laws which could be breached by a member state taking the decision to ban the import of settlement produce on public policy grounds.”
He argues that member states wishing to block the import of produce from settlements could “have recourse” to the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel, which stipulates that the agreement “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.” He argues that, by executing such a ban on trade with settlements, the EU would not be in breach of its World Trade Organisation obligations since, “as a matter of international law, the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered to be Israel’s territory”.
The opinion will be published this week by the Trades Union Congress, which has mounted a sustained campaign for a ban on settlement trade – as distinct from a boycott of Israel itself, which the TUC does not support.
Read it all if your blood pressure will allow it.
You might be interested, however, in the background of this international law expert James Crawford.
In the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling about Israel’s defensive separation wall, dubbed the “apartheid wall” by Israel’s opponents, Crawford was one of the lawyers for “Palestine”.
He is as neutral as Talia Sasson and even more prejudiced against Israel. Watch the British media lionise him.