Reality and the Rule of Law

Should the Israeli government adopt the committee's recommendations, it would further prove the political blindness that seems guide this government in its management of the conflict with the Palestinians.

Anyone who seeks to undermine Israel's future as a democratic country and as the state of the Jewish people could find no better way to do so than to adopt the Levy Committee report. In fact, should the Israeli government adopt the committee's recommendations, it would constitute further proof of the political blindness and abandonment of the Zionist idea that seem to be the principles guiding this government in its management of the conflict with the Palestinians.

According to the authors of the report, the 1947 partition plan lost its international legal validity because of the Arabs' refusal to accept it. Therefore, the conquest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War "restored the legal status of the region to its original state (according to the Mandate for Palestine document drafted in 1922 ); that is to say, a region meant to serve as the national home of the Jewish people." The report's authors repeatedly stressed that, "In the Mandate for Palestine there is no mention of national rights of the Arab people." But they also do not hide the fact that "the 'civil and religious' rights of the Palestinian residents were mentioned" in the Mandate.

This fact was made explicit in the Balfour Declaration, which was included in the Mandate for Palestine in its entirety, as a "clear condition" for British support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. That is to say, this home would be established only as a democratic state in which "non-Jewish sects" would enjoy equal rights.

This condition was clear to the secular Zionist leadership, in a reality in which Jews were a minority or a majority by a tiny margin in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. It was clear to the leadership, that is, until the arrival of Benjamin Netanyahu. This condition, in fact, dictated the policy of that Zionist leadership, which always decided in favor of appropriating land populated by Arabs for the sake of ensuring a Jewish majority and a democratic government in the remaining areas. Or, to use the words of David Ben-Gurion after the War of Independence, which gave Israel 78 percent of the land: "When we were faced with the choice between the entire land of Israel without a Jewish State, or a Jewish State without the entire land of Israel, we chose a Jewish State."

The report's authors didn't bother to complete their legal argument in its entirety, despite their commitment to "act like jurists whose obligation is to make their determination on the basis of the law and only the law." The realization of the Mandatory right to Jewish settlements on all the land, which would be made possible by the report's conclusions, would also obligate the realization of the Mandatory condition of equal rights for all residents. The outcome of that condition, however, is clear: the loss of a Jewish majority and the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

The Israeli government cannot choose to discuss only the legal aspects of the report, meant to pave the way for a reality in which settlements would serve only a single national home. We would like to remind the government that, as early as February 1947, Ben-Gurion declared that the Arabs have the right to self-definition and self-rule. It would never occur to us to deny or denigrate this right, he said.

The day that Israel comes to its senses and seeks to return to the negotiating table, the determination of the report's authors that the Green Line is not the basis for a border would make it impossible for Israel to hold onto that border, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242. This would make it possible for the Palestinians to demand a new border based on the demographic reality. This reality, in which there is a 77 percent Arab majority in the Galilee and a 40 percent majority in the area around Be'er Sheva, can leave the Jewish state with much less than the 78 percent that the Green Line gives it.

Therefore, there would be a lot of political wisdom in an Israeli government decision to adopt only one recommendation of the report: "We should stress that the phenomenon we have encountered regarding Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is inappropriate for a state that has committed itself to the rule of law. The "tower and stockade days," which were perfectly appropriate for a time when the land of Israel was ruled by foreigners, are long since past."