Monday, July 09, 2012

The Levy Committee Report

The Israeli government's Levy Committee has concluded that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank.  The committee's reasoning appears to be that since the end of the British Mandate, there has been no universally recognized status for the area, and so Israel, having de facto control, should treat it as just another part of the state.

This report was commissioned under pressure from Israel's settler movement, and most of the discussion focuses on its implications for the settlements.  Jeffrey Goldberg, however, is thinking about the Palestinians:
"What this means, if implemented, is simple: The Israeli government would treat West Bank land as if it were land in Israel proper (pre-1967 Israel). Now, of course, if Israel were to treat the land of the West Bank as part of Israel, it would necessarily follow that it would have to treat the people who live on that land as Israeli citizens, extending them full voting rights, just as it extends citizenship to people who live in Israel proper, regardless of ethnicity. So: The natural consequence of this notion, if it is carried through to law, would be to extend voting rights to the Palestinians of the West Bank. This would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy, but the right-wing in Israel seems more enamored of land-ownership than it does of such antiquated notions as, you know, Zionism"
Given that it is only the occupation that allows Israel to keep the land while not extending civil rights to its inhabitants, there is no guarantee that Israel will accept this report.  However, it could open the door to a strategy of imposing the cantonment settlement on the Palestinians, which has long been Netanyahu's preference.  This line of thinking is a possible implication of this old interview with Knesset speaker Reiven Rivlin.

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