Adopting The Levy Report: Who Owns the Land of Israel?

David Rubin,

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David Rubin
David Rubin is former mayor of Shiloh, Israel. He is founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children"s Fund, and the author of five books, including The Islamic Tsunami and his latest, More Sparks From Zion. For more info, click on these links: or

In recent years, we have seen a string of Supreme Court rulings in Israel that have invariably sided with Arab claimants in land disputes in Judea and Samaria.  From where do these disputes arise and who are these previously-unknown land owners who present documents supposedly proving land ownership?

After Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, Judea and Samaria fell into Arab hands, specifically the Hashemite monarchy that had been placed in control by the British colonial power over what was then being called Trans-Jordan (across the Jordan). The name referred to the relatively vast land on the eastern side of the Jordan River that we read about in the Bible. Trans-Jordan, now simply called Jordan, is actually the eastern Land of Israel, where the biblical tribes Reuven, Gad, and half of Menasseh chose to establish their communities. Due to its 1948 conquest, this “country” also controlled Judea and Samaria (the western side of the Jordan River) from 1948-1967.

In the period leading up to the Six Day War of 1967, when Israel recaptured these regions, King Hussein of Jordan, seeking to curry favor with his subjects, as well as to deny future Israeli land claims, issued many deeds of land ownership to the inhabitants of his kingdom.

Jumping ahead a few decades, numerous land claims have been filed via Israel’s Supreme Court by Arab claimants, descendants or even distant relatives of those individuals who had received Jordanian documents “proving” their land ownership. But are they really the owners or was King Hussein simply handing over stolen property?

Obviously, for a believing Jew, the question of land ownership is a moot point, as the biblical narrative is clear: God gave the Land of Israel to His people Israel as a divine inheritance. However, because of differing views of the biblical narrative, even within Israel, such an argument doesn’t carry much weight in a court of law.. In our current system of national or international law, we need to examine the full historical, political, and legal picture. The land ownership dispute rests ultimately on the legal status of land in Judea and Samaria. Whose land is it?

The 2012 Levy Report, officially known as the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria is an 89 page report on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. It was published on July 9, 2012 after extensive legal and historical research by a three member committee, authorized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commissioned by Israel’s government, and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy.

Using strictly legal arguments and based on the documented history of the region, the Levy Report proved conclusively that the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is legal according to international law. Nonetheless, its conclusions have yet to be adopted as policy by the Israeli government.

The various Arab land grabs are simply that - attempts to claim that which is not theirs, not historically and not legally. And that, of course, is the Hebrew meaning of the word “Palestinian” - one who invades, robs, and takes that which doesn’t belong to him.

Therefore, even if we intentionally put aside what might be referred to as the “religious arguments”, meaning legitimate biblical, historical claims buttressing Israel’s right to establish communities in Judea and Samaria, the modern legal research clearly shows that Israel has the right to allow Jews to move to these regions and to build communities there. Recent revisionist spin notwithstanding, the international legal basis, sanction, and indeed, encouragement for Jewish settlement was there – from the Balfour Declaration, from the San Remo Peace Conference and from the League of Nations. The Levy Report simply confirmed what was already known decades earlier.

The Israel government has the power to end such recent national embarrassments as the destruction of the apartment buildings in Beit El, the imminent demolition of the twenty-year-old synagogue in Givat Ze’ev, and the evacuation of other thriving Israeli communities, all of which have been based on faulty Arab land claims. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can put an end to this historical injustice by immediately allowing the Israeli Cabinet to vote on the adoption of the Levy Report as the legal basis for government policy in Judea and Samaria.