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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Judea and Samaria Jews Must Prepare Now to Avoid Deportation

Palestinians celebrating their freedom by burning the abandoned synagogue in Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip. The authors urge the Jews of Judea and Samaria to prepare for the next deportation with a smart and non-violent pursuit of independence.

Palestinians celebrating their freedom by burning the abandoned synagogue in Netzarim, in the Gaza Strip. The authors urge the Jews of Judea and Samaria to prepare for the next deportation with a smart and non-violent pursuit of independence.
Photo Credit: Muqata

Of course, some will claim that Israel is transferring its sovereignty to the Palestinians, to which we should respond:

1. At the moment of Israel’s forfeiting of its sovereignty, there is no Palestinian state yet. At that moment, there is a political vacuum in the territory, and no existing state is a legal sovereign there.

2. Israel never annexed Judea and Samaria, so that, in reality, it does not possess a sovereignty which it may transfer.

The third requirement is crucial: those settlements that will declare their independence at the moment of withdrawal must be self governed. This self government may be almost identical to the existing local authorities in Judea and Samaria today, but they must disengage from the Israeli government ministries and their budgets and manage their municipalities independently.

At the same time, this could be an opportunity for localities to shape their self government according to Jewish law and not according to the foreign legal systems that prevail in the State of Israel.

Practically speaking, the self governing settlements would have to finance themselves from collecting taxes. In other words, as soon as the disengagement takes hold, the Israeli government will have no authority to collect taxes from the abandoned residents, so that they could transfer the unclaimed funds directly to their self governing body at home.

The fourth condition may be easier to deal with, because it describes a “capacity” to enter into relations with other states, rather than actually entering such relations. Nevertheless, it might be possible to seek out in advance states willing to sign an economic contract regarding a specific issue with a community planning to declare its independence, and that may suffice to show the capacity to forge relations.

Naturally, this entire analysis must be reviewed by legal experts. But it does appear that there’s the possibility of establishing a legal demand for Jewish sovereignty in the abandoned territories in Judea and Samaria, based on the Montevideo Convention, the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the 1920 San Remo Conference. (The latter favored the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, thus recognizing the right of the Jewish people to self determination in Eretz Israel.) Our claim is that no decision of the State of Israel to retreat changes the internationally recognized right of Jews to their homeland.

As mentioned earlier, it’s possible that this negative political scenario will create a historic opportunity to shape the Jewish self rule according to Jewish law instead of the foreign legal norms used in Israel today.

From a Zionist point of view, there’s no doubt that the return of our nation to its homeland is not enough; rather a revival of our language and culture are required to wholly fulfill the vision of the prophets. Our national heritage is not merely a religion, but also comprises a complete value system that governs every facet of our national life, socially, economically, judicially and politically. In other words, our tradition is a full way of life with everything that this term implies.

Whoever examines our historic sources earnestly, will discover that ours is a highly enlightened and progressive system of government. Unfortunately, only few understand this, which is why there hasn’t so far been enough progress toward an Israeli constitution based on Jewish law. This topic is too long and detailed, but let us note a few principles:

1. The Jewish constitution is federal. Our nation was forged originally as the union of twelve tribes, each with its autonomous institutions of justice and government, a unique flag and even a separate military unit. On those periods in history when the nation of Israel was united, it also had central national institutions: King, Temple, Sanhedrin. But these did not replace the tribal autonomies, and the powers delegated to the central government (the king) were limited by law. Therefore, the cornerstone of the modern Jewish system of government must be the autonomous communities of Israeli citizens, united in a federation around a central national government whose authority will be limited to national and international affairs.

Ehud Tokatly and Yori Yanover

About the Author: Ehud Tokatly and Yori Yanover have been collaborating on various artistic and journalistic projects since 1971.

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