Time to apply Israeli law over Judea and Samaria

An official government decision to adopt the Levy Report will require a significant struggle to change the rules of the game.

July 11, 2012 23:01
4 minute read.
view of the west bank

view of the west bank. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Several historical opportunities stand before the Netanyahu government.
The issue of enlistment is one, but no less important is the opportunity to completely overhaul the management of Judea and Samaria.

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 administration.

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 alone.

However, without a systematic registry, residents time and again fall victim to the legal traps set by the Left’s attorneys.

The latter 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 years.

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 is Jewish.

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 game.

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.

This is 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 Heights.

Now it is our turn to decide.

The writer is a Likud MK.

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