After an effort to legally define Israel’s Jewish character in legislation sparked much controversy, Likud has now come up with yet another controversial proposition: Anchor the legal status of Judea and Samaria in a basic law –– the Israeli precursor to a constitution, Army Radio reported Monday.
A new draft bill of the law, to be presented by Coalition Chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) this week, states that “the Land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and the birthplace of the State of Israel.” This clause could potentially impact future court decisions relating to the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria.
Under the proposal, the official status of Arabic as a national language would also be downgraded.
In an interview with Army Radio Monday, Levin defended his proposal, saying, “It is not like there is currently a balance between a Jewish state and a democratic state and we are coming along and disrupting it. This balance has been grossly trampled on and we are here to remedy this situation.”
Opposition MK Avishay Braverman (Labor) issued a response to the proposal, saying, “This is a disaster.”
“When David Ben-Gurion founded this country it was on the basis of two principles: Israel was to be a Jewish and a democratic state. Now they are trying to annex Judea and Samaria and erode the democratic state.”
The government-commissioned Levy Commission, set up to examine Israel’s legitimate claims to Judea and Samaria, concluded that “the classical laws of ‘occupation’ as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to … Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.”
“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority,” Levy stated. “Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”