Press Release: APN to Netanyahu: Repudiate Levy Commission Report

Levy_Netanyahu_Collage2.jpgWashington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today joined its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in calling on the government of Israel to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank. APN calls on other US Jewish groups that support the two-state solution to raise their voices in opposition to this report.

(Pictured: Committee Chairman Levy presents report to Prime Minister Netanyahu superimposed over APN's Settlement Map)

The commission's report, published yesterday, states that Israel is not an occupier in the West Bank, asserts that establishing settlements in the West Bank does not violate international law, and recommends legalizing illegal ("unauthorized") settlement construction and facilitating additional settlement in the West Bank.

The commission also recommends, for the first time since 1967, permitting Israeli settlers to register land ownership in the West Bank.

This report therefore represents a potential sea change in Israeli policies in the West Bank. Such policies openly seek to expand the occupation and render it irreversible

APN believes that by adopting the report of the commission, which was headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Edmund Levy, Israel's government would cause terrible damage to its international standing, to its relationship with the United States, and to prospects for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Doing so would send a definitive statement that the current government has no respect for the rule of law, for the commitments of previous governments to remove illegal outposts, or for the interests of the 96% of Israelis who are not part of the ideological settlement enterprise.

APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "Forty-five years ago Israel made a decision not to annex the West Bank. For forty-five years, Israel has controlled the area through the Ministry of Defense, with military law prevailing on the Palestinian population. For forty-five years, Israeli courts have agreed that the area is held in 'belligerent military occupation. And for forty-five years, settlers and their supporters in Israeli governments and in the Knesset have abused this situation to promote an extremist agenda, at the expense of the 96% of Israelis who are not settlers."

"These are the facts. For a committee to now decree that the occupation does not exist, despite these facts clearly contradicts reality and augurs poorly not only for prospects for peace but also for the future of Israel."

"If the Levy Report's recommendations become official policy, the Netanyahu government will be taking the country that we love and support one step closer to becoming an international pariah - a country whose government declares openly that it prefers land to peace and ideology over law and justice."

"If it becomes the policy of the state of Israel, history will record Benjamin Netanyahu as the prime minister who, with this action, bears personal responsibility for denying Israel the ability to reach a reasonable peace agreement with the Palestinians and with the Arab world. If this report becomes Israeli policy, Netanyahu and his Greater Israel cohort will condemn Israelis to de-facto becoming the citizens of a bi-national state and to losing their Jewish, democratic homeland."