July 12, 2012—New York—AJC, convinced that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is based on solid legal ground, called on the Israeli government to reject the recommendations of the Levy Commission as a distraction from the ongoing quest for a negotiated two-state solution.
"It's clear to us that Israel's role in the West Bank does not fit the standard legal definition of 'occupation,'" said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "These were lands under control of successive foreign powers, and then captured by neighboring states, and later by Israel in a war of self-defense. Their status is legitimately in dispute.
"But what may be legal is not always wise. The Commission's recommendations that the Israeli government lift key restrictions on settlement and outpost construction, and legalize unauthorized outposts would pose costly and unnecessary political and diplomatic challenges.
"If accepted by the government, the commission's findings would offer an unearned excuse for Palestinian resistance to a return to peace talks with Israel—talks Israel is eager to resume, without preconditions. And they would interfere with the message that Prime Minister Netanyahu and previous Israeli governments have sent for the last two decades of a profound commitment to a negotiated two-state solution that will require compromise by both sides. We hope the panel's recommendations will not be adopted."
The special three-person commission, chaired by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, was charged by the Prime Minister in January to examine legal questions pertaining to unauthorized Israeli outposts in the West Bank.Date: 7/12/2012 12:00:00 AM