Several historical opportunities stand before the Netanyahu
The issue of enlistment is one, but no less important is the
opportunity to completely overhaul the management of Judea and
The Levy Report established de facto that it is no longer
possible to treat the legitimate settlement of Judea and Samaria as a
misbegotten stepchild, a wild west twilight zone in which the Jordanian and
Ottoman registries are recorded willy-nilly while the secretive veil of the
Defense Ministry hovers above, ruling the territory through the civil
After almost half a century of settlement in Judea and
Samaria, it is impossible to continue building without a systematic and reliable
Israeli land registry. Rather than depend on the goodwill of the defense
minister, who can currently prevent the building of public institutions and new
neighborhoods with his signature, it is imperative to restore responsibility to
the government so that it can build according to its desire. This will be
possible once the government has before it a systematic land registry that will
allow for settlements to expand and not be blocked due to political factors
unrelated to land purchases.
The legal battle is the last stronghold of
the leftists, who understand they cannot simply overrule the majority of the
public who support the settlement enterprise. When the public votes the Likud
into power, it expresses its desire to continue the pioneering and Zionist
enterprise in Judea and Samaria. We cannot allow “Peace Now” the right to
control the building process. This responsibility is entrusted to the government
However, without a systematic registry, residents time and again
fall victim to the legal traps set by the Left’s attorneys.
fight against the settlements by means of the Jordanian registry, mostly
fictitious, allowing them to falsely claim ownership in the name of petitioners
who never knew they were the proprietors and never claimed ownership for over 40
FIRST OF all, it is essential to know the facts: the territories
of Judea and Samaria are mostly uninhabited. Only 10 percent has been used for
building (including the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Hebron and Shechem, and
the Jewish cities of Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Arba). 90% of the
territory is empty.
Among the built-up portions, only 3% of the building
Even with the understanding that not all of the territory is
suitable for construction, it is still important to appreciate that we are very
far from the full realization of the tremendous settlement potential in this
central region of the country.
As for the territory suitable for
building, only a third (about a million dunams) was authorized in the time of
attorney Plia Albek who, as the director of the Civil Division of Attorneys,
understood the importance of regulations and worked day and night to record the
territories without a single Palestinian claimant.
Another million dunams
have the status of “survey land,” meaning territory requiring official
government authorization. Entire cities, like Ariel, could be built on these
territories, and existing communities could flourish into cities if only we act
according to the layout of the Levy Report.
The report did not present
anything new in saying Judea and Samaria are not occupied territory according to
international law. One need not be a renowned historian or senior jurist to
recall the simple fact that the lands of Judea and Samaria returned to the
Jewish people after a defensive war, or that there was never a Palestinian state
from which the territories could have been taken.
There is also nothing
new about the government’s ability to build settlements in Judea and Samaria.
After all, since the Supreme Court tried to prevent the construction of Elon
Moreh, it is clear to all that the decision whether or not to build is a
political one, whose unique red line is the prohibition regarding building on
private Palestinian land.
AN OFFICIAL government decision to adopt the
Levy Report will require a significant struggle to change the rules of the
This week I presented, along with a distinguished list of Knesset
members, a bill to adopt the report’s conclusions and request that Israeli
building laws and regulations be applied in Judea and Samaria.
the key to creating a long-term change that will eventually lead to the complete
application of Israeli law over Judea and Samaria.
For those that value
international opinion, we would remind them that not a single embassy graces
Jerusalem. Yes, not even the western part of the city. Does this mean we should
be prepared to relinquish sovereignty over our capital city? David Ben-Gurion
already decided this matter in 1949 when he chose to move the Knesset to
Jerusalem. Begin decided when he passed the law annexing the Golan
Now it is our turn to decide.
The writer is a Likud MK.