Blue-ribbon panel: Israelis have legal right to settle all of Judea and SamariaA blue-ribbon panel established by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, has concluded that Jews have a legal right to settle throughout Judea and Samaria under 'international law.'
The committee was established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in efforts to determine and cement the legal status of the outposts in Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on communities that were not built on privately owned Palestinian land but their status was still in doubt due to legal bureaucracy.That last paragraph likely covers the vast majority of the so-called 'illegal outposts.'
The committee issued its report on Tuesday, which was subsequently handed over to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. In the report, Levy wrote that "upon completing the committee's tasks, and considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of 'occupation' do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel's decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria."
"Likewise," the report said, "the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn't intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria."
In the part of the report that criticizes Israel's actions, the retired justice wrote that "dozens of new neighborhoods have been erected, without government authorization and at times without a contiguous link to the mother community. Several were built outside the legal jurisdiction allotted to the community. This prevalent phenomenon has required large amounts of funding therefore the committee finds it hard to believe that it was done without the government's knowledge."
In conclusion, the report stated that "we have discovered a phenomenon within the Israeli settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria that does not befit a country that upholds the rule of law. From now on, it must be made very clear to the proponents of the settlement enterprise and to the political echelon that they are to operate only within the confines of the law, and the various law enforcement institutions must decisively enforce the law in the future."
The committee's recommendations include the following: The government must clarify its position on the issue of Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria to prevent varying interpretations of its policy; a new community will only be built after the government or an authorized ministerial committee has approved it; the expansion of a community outside the bounds of its authorized jurisdiction must first be approved by the defense minister or a ministerial committee on settlements, in coordination with the prime minister.
On the other hand, the committee declared that the encouragement provided by the government to the settlement enterprise constituted authorization. According to the committee, communities that were built on land owned by the state, or privately owned Israeli land, with the help of government bodies could not be classified as "unauthorized" due to the absence of an official government decision to authorize them. The very assistance provided by the government in their establishment constitutes implicit authorization.
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