American Group 'Delighted' by Australian Stance
ZOA Israel Director Jeff Daube and Arlene Kushner, co-chairs of the Committee for the Promotion of the Levy Report and Israel’s Legal Grounds, responded to the recent comments of the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, regarding the fact that Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria are not illegal:
“We were delighted by the comments of the Australian foreign minister,” they stated.
“Minister Bishop made a critical point that the international community chooses to ignore,” they explained, when she forthrightly questioned the assumption that there is anything illegal about Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
”The decision about whether to negotiate is a political one. But if there are going to be such negotiations, they must be based on legal realities. The Levy Report – which has concluded that the settlements are not illegal and that Israel is not an occupier – should inform and animate Israel’s position," said Kushner and Daube.
The Levy Report was filed by a committee that was headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, and determined that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are legal.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has his opening now for taking a strong stand stand on Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria. The proper response, when the EU condemns settlement building, is that Israel has legal rights in Judea and Samaria that are spelled out in the Levy Report,” they added.
Australia recently changed its position and abstained on two UN resolutions against Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. A spokesman for Minister Bishop said the shift comes because Australia will not support "one-sided" resolutions that "pre-judge the outcome" of peace talks.
The Regavim movement, an NGO watchdog group for Jewish national property rights, accused the Israeli government last month of ignoring the Levy Report. In the current state of affairs, Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs receive clear preference in Judea and Samaria land disputes, not having to prove land ownership, Regavim charged.
Attorney Betzalel Smotrich, Operations Manager for Regavim, told Arutz Sheva that the 2012 Levy Report, which found Judea and Samaria communities to be legal by international law, "as of today, is gathering dust. The Civil Administration continues to operate 180 degrees opposite to the report."