Yesterday I explained why a New York Times editorial was wrong when it said that the decision of Israel’s Levy Commission that Israel had a legal right to build settlements in Judea and Samaria was “bad law.” Today I want to take on the accusations that it is “bad policy” and “bad politics.”
The Times writes,
The recommendations would annul a number of past Israeli Supreme Court rulings and orders, including a 1979 decision forbidding the expropriation of land for “military needs” when the real goal is settlement construction. It is alarming to see this latest attack on the court, which has tried to temper government excesses, ruling that several outposts and buildings constructed on private Palestinian land should be dismantled. Thirty families were evicted from five such buildings last month.
The implication here is that Israel is going around condemning Palestinian property and handing it over to ‘settlers’.
This is untrue and disingenuous. The commission did not rule that Israeli Jews had a right to take “private Palestinian land.” If anything, it called for additional safeguards to ensure that ownership of land is clarified before it is built on by anyone, Jew or Arab. Unlike in the US, questions of land ownership in the territories are often very complicated and unclear, with missing documentation the rule rather than the exception, and various systems of law involved, including those in force in the Jordanian, Mandate and Ottoman periods.
It doesn’t help that the Palestinian Authority has decreed a penalty of death for an Arab who sells land to a Jew. Nor does it help that European and New Israel Fund financed lawyers and NGOs are seeking out Arabs to file claims against settlements, and that in some cases the government has ordered demolition of structures after receiving complaints, without waiting to establish the actual ownership of the property (see link to Ulpana below).
The commission also recommended the option of compensating owners when encroachment was established after construction rather than eviction and demolition, such as in the recent case of Ulpana (you will have to read the details; it’s too bizarre for me to summarize).
Bad policy? It seems to me that it is a much better policy than before.
In the vein of “bad politics”, the Times continues,
The commission, led by Edmund Levy, a former Supreme Court justice, was established in January under pressure from settlement leaders. If its conclusions are not firmly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is likely to be new international anger at Israel. That could divert attention from Iran just when the world is bearing down with sanctions and negotiations to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.
This is absolutely delicious: the Times warns the Jewish state against provoking “international anger,” as if absolutely anything Israel does that is not a concession doesn’t provoke “anger,” and as if concessions aren’t always pocketed and immediately followed by new demands.
The Times’ idea of ‘good politics’ is that Israel should not assert its legitimate rights under international law because that will anger the Goyim, who then won’t protect Israel against the Iranian pogromists!
Does the Times hire its editorial writers straight out of medieval ghettos? Because this is the mentality they display.
We know and they know that the “international community” is not going to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
We know, and they are either too stupid or too dishonest to admit, that in order to survive Israel must deter aggression or preempt it. Appeasement, so consistently recommended by the Times and its columnists, is precisely the wrong way to bolster deterrence.
Let me point out a final bit of dishonesty:
[if the report is accepted by the government] It would also draw attention to a dispiriting anomaly: that a state founded as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people is determined to continue ruling 2.5 million Palestinians under an unequal system of laws and rights.
Perhaps the Times has failed to notice that something like 97% of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are under the administration of the Palestinian authority (I have no idea where they get the 2.5 million figure). But Israel is not ‘ruling’ them except insofar as it is not permitting their terrorist gangs to operate.
The commission did not, as this paragraph suggests, decide that the entire area of Judea and Samaria was a permanent part of Israel, but only that settlements there are not illegal. The eastern border of the state of Israel remains undefined, as it has been since the war of independence. Israel is still waiting, as it has for 64 years, for serious negotiations with the Arab nations and the Palestinians.