With the full breakdown of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Jewish state is hinting at a full renewal of “settlement activity” in Judea and Samaria.
In a visit with settlement leaders in the Benjamin Regional Council on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon insisted that the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria was crucial to Israel’s security and future in the region.
“There is no security without the settlement enterprise. Where there is no settlement enterprise, there is no security,” said Ya’alon.
Later that same day, Housing Minister Uri Ariel told a Jerusalem Day celebration that not only would Jerusalem never again be divided, but that the government would also stop freezing the building of Jewish homes in other parts of the disputed territories. “There will be no more freezes — we won’t allow it,” Ariel stated.
According to Ariel, the end goal is that “there will be just one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel.”
The statements by these two ministers come just days after reports that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to adopt certain clauses from the findings of the Levy Committee established in 2012 to determine the legality of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.
Ha’aretz reported that in accordance with the Levy Committee findings, the government would significantly ease restrictions on Jewish construction in these areas.
Netanyahu himself commissioned the Levy Committee, a panel of jurists that included an international legal expert originally involved in formulating the so-called “Oslo Accords.”
Drawing on “international, Jordanian, Israeli and even Ottoman laws,” the Levy Committee concluded that “from the point of view of international law, the classical laws of ‘occupation’ as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, over the course of decades.”
The Geneva Conventions define “military occupation” as the seizing of another nation’s land, and the fact is that no nation legally controlled Judea and Samaria following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which itself had ruled the area for over five centuries.
Additionally, the Jews cannot be considered an outside force in Judea and Samaria, but rather the historic founders of the territory as a unified nation-state. Jewish archeological finds dating back millennia abound in the “West Bank.”
Despite these legal and historical validations of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian leadership is adamant that Jewish settlement activity is the sole obstacle to peace.