Why Republicans Must Take the Lead on Israel (FrontPageMagazine.com) by Arlene Kushner 07/24/12)
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There is a truism – “You can’t be more Catholic than the pope” – that
is rather scrupulously adhered to in political circles.
With regard to Israel, this bit of political wisdom suggests that it
is inappropriate for U.S. politicians, whatever their predilections
or convictions, to move to the right of the Israeli government on
issues of Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank).
However remote the possibility of negotiations between the PLO and
Israel – however clear the evidence that the Arabs don’t want a
negotiated settlement, but want the Jews gone, the notion of a “two-
state solution” continues to be the politically correct mantra in the
As long as that “solution” remains the official position of the
Israeli government, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu persists in
his calls for PA president Abbas to come to the table without pre-
conditions, Republican members of Congress are reluctant to advance
positions to the right of what he is saying. Republican policy-
makers are waiting for the Israeli government to make the first move.
It is time for Republican decision-makers to move beyond this
conventional wisdom. For, in fact, a vast historical opportunity
awaits them if they are bold enough to seize it.
What we are seeing is a confluence of events in the U.S and Israel
that has significant implications:
In Israel, a 90-page report has been released that is surely destined
to cause shifts in the political landscape and has already begun to
do so. In January, Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a committee of
three to consider the legal status of “unauthorized settlements” in
Judea and Samaria. Headed by Supreme Court Justice (ret) Edmund
Levy, the committee also consisted of Tel Aviv District Court Judge
(Ret.) Tehiya Shapira and Dr. Alan Baker an expert on international
After taking testimonies and doing an extensive examination of a host
of legal and historical documents, what they have concluded, in
brief, is that:
-“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to
settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that
Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority.
Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and
Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”
-“…considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that
from an international law perspective, the laws of ‘occupation’ do
not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding
Israel’s decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria.”
-“Likewise, the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection
of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations
does not apply, and wasn’t intended to apply to communities such as
those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria.”
The Levy Committee has made recommendations in accordance with its
findings, but these recommendations are not binding on the government.
The report was released first to the attorney general, about two
weeks ago, and then to the prime minister. He has submitted it to
the Ministerial Committee on Settlements for consideration, and in
due course it is hoped that there will be an official response from
the prime minister and this ministerial committee.
The recommendations might be accepted. It is possible, however, that
the prime minister will decide to sit on the report at present,
rather than taking a definitive position.
Be that as it may, there has been a significant shift in the
political climate in Israel, and there is no way that matters can
return to a “pre-Levy report” situation:
“Two-state” advocates are in despair, and some are saying, “OK,
you’ve won. Now what?”
Nationalists, who believe that the land from the River to the Sea
belongs to Israel, have been significantly buoyed by this turn of
events and are strongly motivated to continue the quest for the
fulfillment of their goals. A host of initiatives are at work. For
example, it is the stated intention of Member of Knesset Tzipi Livni
(Likud) to introduce a bill into the Knesset declaring the findings
of the report binding on the government. She says she will persist
until she succeeds. There is, as well, talk about annexing Area C of
Judea and Samaria – the part under full Israeli control – without
undue delay. Today, that is not yet a possibility, politically. But
the talk grows.
The point here is that we are witnessing a process. And a process
takes time. Yet, it is possible now to see the future, as it seems
to be coming down the road.
Prime Minister Netanyahu may well not be at the forefront of this
process. There is in fact good reason to assume he will not be, for
he is bound by a number of constraints. For example: a primary
concern of his, with valid reason, is the nuclear advancement of
Iran. His interest in securing the cooperation of the U.S. in dealing
with Iran may make it necessary for him to continue to assume the
politically correct “two-state” stance.
In light of this situation, perhaps it is time for Republican leaders
to understand that it may be in Israel’s best interest – and their
own political best interest – to endorse a position with regard to
Israel that moves beyond the constraints that bind the prime minister.
It may be time for them to work more seriously with members of the
Knesset, including several from Likud, who are advancing a
nationalist agenda. In point of fact, these Knesset members are
eager to secure the attention of Republicans in Congress and those
who will be setting policy for the party.
For the other half of the equation here is that the U.S. is in an
election year. This makes it a time for rethinking old attitudes and
setting new policies. A statement by the Republican Party that
acknowledges the rights of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria would
be vastly appreciated in many quarters in Israel.
A letter that provides an explanation of the Levy Report has already
gone from members of the Knesset to certain members of Congress. And,
as this is being written, Member of Knesset Danny Danon (Likud) is in
Washington. With a full English translation of the report in hand,
he will be meeting with potentially supportive members of Congress.
Hopefully this will be the beginning of a constructive relationship.
(Copyright © 2012 FrontPageMagazine.com 07/24/12)
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