A new government committee has been formed to “address the legal status of West Bank lands,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) has announced.
The formation of the committee comes in fulfillment of part of the coalition agreement between Bayit Yehudi and the Likud.
The agreement stipulates such a committee is to be formed and make “fast-track” recommendations within 60 days on the legal status of outposts in Judea and Samaria.
The deal was designed to prevent the typical red tape snarl that usually results in committee paralysis of any issue that proves too painful to handle without a public political temper tantrum from one quarter or the other.
Members of the committee – to be led by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit – include Agriculture Ministry director-general Shlomo Ben-Eliyahu, Defense Ministry Legal Adviser Ahaz Ben-Ari and Attorney Hagai Vinitzki.
As expected, the public temper tantrums have already started — even before the work.
Routine NGO litigant “Yesh Din” (Volunteers for Human Rights), which essentially opposes human rights for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria and opposes their communities, is already slamming the establishment of the committee itself.
“Even 100 committees will not succeed in fixing the contradiction of an after-the-fact legalization of outposts and neighborhoods which were established amidst continuing violations” of the rule of law, Yesh Din said in a statement.
The NGO claimed that Justice Minister Shaked is “trying to implement the Levy Report via the back door…. without the government officially adopting [it] and “even though senior jurists in Israel and globally, as well as decisions of the Supreme Court reject [the report’s] legal interpretations and conclusions.”
The brouhaha by Yesh Din references the 2012 Levy Report that was authored by the late Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who rendered a decision stating the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were legal under international law. Justice Levy recommended the government legalize unrecognized outposts that were built on Israeli state land, at least through some form of unofficial government support.
The question has remained over whether land in Judea and Samaria holds the legal status of state land or private land, and where those areas exist.
More than half a million Israeli citizens now populate those communities and live their lives from one day to the next never knowing whether tomorrow will bring an eviction notice from the State of Israel due to some political expediency that could destroy decades of investment and change their lives forever – as it did for nearly 10,000 others in the Jewish towns of Gush Katif and northern Samaria.
Hana Levi Julian