Ending the notion of Palestinian sovereignty

The Regulation Law will hopefully be a prelude to annexation of the West Bank.

The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra is photographed as seen from the former Jewish settler outpost of Amona. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra is photographed as seen from the former Jewish settler outpost of Amona.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
ON FEBRUARY 6, the Knesset passed the Regulation Law, which is designed to prevent the repetition of a legal bind that resulted in the destruction of the Amona outpost and the upcoming destruction of nine homes in the veteran community of Ofra.
Henceforth, if a belated claim of property ownership arises with regard to existing communities over the green line, the remedy will be to compensate the property owner to the tune of 125% or assessed value.
The law will not apply to people who moved onto private property knowingly trespassing, and also will not apply in cases in which Arab property owners launch a reasonably prompt legal challenge in a reasonable time. For that, we have the Eilon Moreh decision of 1980, which the proposed law does not change. It merely applies legal practice that exists in sovereign Israel where, if a house is built in good faith and only retroactively it becomes clear that it was mistakenly built on private property, compensation versus demolition is the course of action. From the vantage point of legal morality, a law that makes moral and practical sense in Jerusalem cannot be viewed as moral obscenity when it is applied five miles away.
The new Knesset law would have spared us the scenes of destruction at Amona that availed the Arab property owners nothing, but inflicted upon them financial loss. They could only enjoy the satisfaction of seeing Jewish houses bulldozed, thus rekindling the hope enunciated by their village chief in Silwad that all Jewish Israelis will return to Europe. This reaction channels the old Russian folk tale involving a peasant who is approached by a fairy who promises to grant him one wish. The peasant thinks long and hard and informs the fairy that he wishes his neighbor’s cow to die.
What really bothers the opponents of the law is that it implies annexation by conferring Israeli law on areas that have not been annexed.
International law is black and white, argue critics of the law; it cannot be a patchwork where the laws governing belligerent occupation apply in some cases and Israeli law in others.
First of all, one can respond that the situation already is a patchwork.
The decision to give the residents of Silwad access to the Israeli court system and their choice to petition is a deviation because, if we followed international law to the hilt, such access is denied and the only access envisioned is to military tribunals.
If we followed military law, some of the terrorists apprehended by the Israeli security services richly deserved the death penalty, though the death penalty has never been applied in deference to Israeli domestic law, which reserves the death penalty for Nazi war criminals.
One cannot cherry-pick and invoke the protection of Israeli law and its principles only on a convenience basis.
Secondly, Israel, like the United States, employs a dualist system with respect to international law ‒ meaning that Israeli law takes precedence over international law.
For example, in the Adolf Eichmann trial, the defense challenged the competence of the Israeli court because the arch murderer had been illegally abducted from Argentina in violation of international law. The court ruled that Israel’s law of bringing Nazis to justice prevailed over international law. If Argentina sued Israel for breach of international law, Israel would make recompense separately.
I have been living over the green line in Tekoa for nearly 40 years where I have voted for the Knesset, paid taxes, and, when I was younger, was called up for reserve military duty. How can I do so when Israeli law does not officially apply? The farcical remedy is that existing and new Knesset legislation is enabled by the passage of a military decree. Here, I actually agree with critics of the law such as B’Tselem’s Sarit Michaeli (“A continuation of land theft by other means,” February 20) that it is time for the subterfuge to end. But, whereas for Michaeli the solution is to renounce the settlement project and a half million Israelis, I believe the solution is to openly extend Israeli law over the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
I do not disguise my hopes that the Regulation Law will serve as a prelude to annexation. However, we have been through enough to realize that even annexation does not remove the threat to Israeli control over these parts of Judea and Samaria.
The annexation of Jerusalem following the Six Day War and the extension of Israeli law over the Golan Heights by Menachem Begin’s government in 1981 did not prevent the two Ehuds – Barak and Olmert ‒ from placing both on the bargaining table. Save for the intransigence of Hafez Assad vis-à-vis Barak, and Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas vis-à-vis Barak and Olmert, they could have been lost.
Nevertheless, the law is important because it makes a statement about Israel’s intentions, whose lowest common denominator can be subsumed by the twin principles of no return to the pre-June 5, 1967 boundaries and no to a completely sovereign Palestinian state.
Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly Besheva.