The Israeli right celebration of the legal opinion that there is no occupation – written by the Supreme Court Justice that opposed the disengagement – is evidence that public debate has clearly reached a delusional moment.
Justice Edmond Levy (Photo: Eyal Warshavsky)
A panel formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has concluded that Israel is entitled to settle the West Bank with Jews. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, claims that Israel’s control over the West Bank cannot be seen as “occupation” since no country has recognized sovereignty over the territory. Therefore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents the transfer of a civilian population by an occupying force into the occupied territory, does not apply to the West Bank. Justice Levy recommends that the Israeli government end the temporary status of the settlements and register the settlers’ control over the territory.
You can read the entire report here (Hebrew, PDF). A few quick takeaways:
This position is not new. Although the Israeli Supreme Court did cite the Fourth Geneva Convention in various rulings, Israeli legal scholars and some of their supporters have put forward this interpretation before, as part of an attempt to justify the ongoing colonization of the West Bank and the annexation of East Jerusalem and the surrounding areas (I addressed one such effort here). To the best of my knowledge, this position has never been accepted by the majority of the international legal community, or by major legal scholars.