Dr. Alan Baker, an expert on international law and a member of the committee headed by Judge Edmond Levi recommending the extension of Israeli law to Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, said at a conference discussing the matter Tuesday night that Israel would be fully in its rights to do so.
“The task of the Levi Committee was to look at the construction situation in Judea and Samaria and make the appropriate recommendations on how to proceed,” Baker said at the event sponsored by the Women in Green organization. The recommendation to authorize all construction in Judea and Samaria made by the committee was a very important one, he said.
Until very recently, the guiding document for governments in Israel had been a 2004 report authored by leftist attorney Talia Sasson, who recommended the dismantling of many new communities, termed “outposts,” in Judea and Samaria. Sasson later ran for Knesset on the far-left Meretz party list.
Baker said that much of the trouble relating to these communities was due to Sasson’s bad faith in preparing the report. She had been asked by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to prepare a report on “unauthorized outposts, but when she produced the report she termed them ‘illegal’ outposts.” The government, Baker said, had no choice but to act on removing the communities, because “she turned anyone who builds there into criminals.”
Because of that report, Presidents Bush and Obama also adopted the attitude that the communities were illegal, Baker said. This attitude was mistaken, he claimed. “Not having authorization is not a crime…Our mission was to clarify the situation and make appropriate recommendations.”
The committee examined the rights of Israel to build in Judea and Samaria altogether. Leftist groups, said Baker, attempted to prove that only Arabs had the right to build on non-privately owned lands in the the region, but those proofs were rejected by the committee, he said.
“After and extensive investigation, we determined that Judea and Samaria were not legally ‘occupied.’ It was not under legal control of any entity,” including Jordan, whose declaration of sovereignty over the region was never recognized by international organizations like the UN, said Baker. As a result, “building by Israel in Judea and Samaria does not violate the Geneva Convention.”
In contrast, Israel, as the representative of the Jewish people, could claim an historic right to build in Judea and Samaria. “No one can deny this historic right. There are no pacts, treaties, or any other documents that attribute Palestinian rights to the region.” Baker added that he had presented the committee’s conclusions to many diplomats, and all accepted them – except for Israel.