In the recent election in Israel, the Obama administration was greatly surprised and upset by the landslide victory for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party, Likud. During the last few days of the campaign, Bibi told the electorate that a State of Palestine would not be established during his premiership, ostensibly refuting his call for such a state made during his speech at Bar Ilan University in 2009. Adopting the Levy Report (see below) would greatly strengthen Bibi’s position.
After the election, Bibi’s spokespeople quickly followed up by explaining that Netanyahu was referring not to the abstract possibility of a Palestinian state, but the reality of achieving one. This is because Palestinian Authority President (and chairman of the PLO) Mahmoud Abbas defiantly refuses to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish State. Just as significant are uprisings throughout the region, which all but guarantee that a jihadist terror group would quickly take control of any land that Israel would give to the Palestinian Arabs.
President Obama quickly disparaged Bibi’s statement, ignoring the clarifications that had been made, insisting that a “reassessment of relations” must be made vis a vis Israel. The reason? Because the supposedly indispensable and essential 2-state solution for peace in the Middle East has seemingly been brushed aside by the Israeli government.
As I and many others have noted previously, there are many other possible solutions which might bring about some sort of agreement between the Israelis and Arabs. The 2-state solution does not appear to be one of them. (See my article: Israelseen.com 2-state-solution-or-bust) The intransigence of Abbas, who is in the 10th year of what was to be a 4-year term, as well as the tumult in Israel’s backyard, present an insurmountable barrier at this time to a Palestinian state. This failure on the part of the Muslims/Arabs to evince a desire to do anything but expropriate Israel reminds me of a Talmudic story about the Jews’ longing for the Messiah:
Once, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi met Elijah and asked the Prophet, “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied, “You should ask that question of the Messiah himself.” Having learned from Elijah where the Messiah could be found, Rabbi Joshua set out for that place and met the Messiah, saying to him: “Peace unto you, Master and Teacher.”
“Peace unto you, son of Levi,” the Messiah replied.
“When will the Lord of the Universe appear?” Rabbi Joshua inquired.
“Today! Even today…” the Messiah replied.
Full of happiness and joy, Rabbi Joshua returned to Elijah and told him what the Messiah had said. Thereupon Elijah explained to Rabbi Joshua that the Messiah was speaking of the word “today” mentioned in the verse: “Today – if you will hearken to my voice.” This meant that the Messiah could come any day if only the Jews would repent, and all together return to the Lord and the Torah and Mitzvas which He commanded us to fulfill every day. (chabad.org)
The parallel is that the Arabs, who ostensibly desire a Palestinian state, TODAY fail to act in a way that would encourage confidence from Israel. There might have been a State of Palestine at many junctures in the past: in 1947, when the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine called for a Jewish and an Arab state; in 1949, after an armistice went into effect; between 1949-1967, when Jordan and Egypt controlled the West Bank and Gaza; in 1967, when the victorious Jews expected to forge a peace treaty with the Arabs; in 2000, at the Camp David summit, when Chairman Arafat walked away from a generous peace offer by Prime Minister Barak; in 2008, when President Abbas refused an even more generous offer by Prime Minister Olmert; and in 2013-14, when Prime Minister Netanyahu suspended almost all building in Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) for nine months and President Abbas declined to negotiate.
TODAY, with Iran on the way to developing an atomic bomb; with the terrorist organization Hamas controlling Gaza; with Hizbollah, Iran’s proxy force, controlling Lebanon; and with civil wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, only a suicidal Israeli government would consider helping to establish a State of Palestine cheek by jowl with Israel.
After the election, I was asked by a friend what I thought the new government should do first. In my opinion, reforming the government or the education system, devising a plan to make housing affordable, lowering the extremely high cost of living, etc., all need attention. But the most urgent need is to fight the burgeoning movement to delegitimize the state of Israel, which extends even to repealing our status as a nation – as if that were possible.
Opportunely, Israel possesses a potent weapon to employ against its adversaries, one that for some reason has been sidelined: the Levy Report, the informal name for “The Commission to Examine the Status of Building in Judea and Samaria” filed with the United Nations. (unispal.un.org)
“The Levy Commission Report was assigned on 13 February 2012 by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and then-Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman. The three-member panel that examined the issue of building in the so-called ‘post-1967’ territories included retired Supreme Court Justice E.E. Levy, chairman; retired District Court Judge Tehiya Shapira; and Ambassador Alan Baker. It was the opinion of the Levy Commission that Israel’s status was not that of a ‘military occupier’ with all that the term implies, in accordance with international law.” (jewishpress.com)
The Levy Report gives Israel all the legal ammunition it needs to fight the delegitimization campaign in the international arena. For some inexplicable (to me) reason, Prime Minister Netanyahu has never officially adopted this erudite document. Now is the time for Israel to go on the offensive to combat the vicious campaigns which endanger its existence, to spare no expense on hasbara (public diplomacy) to finance the battle, in a word: to be proactive. Adopting the Levy Report could be done quickly, unlike the aforementioned problems which inevitably require extended commissions, reports, and votes.
Adopting and utilizing the Levy Report quickly would set a pragmatic, positive tone to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new government.