Levy Report Recommends Legalizing Settler Outposts

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Today’s Top Stories:

1. An Israeli government panel recommends legalizing West Bank outposts. Even if the government doesn’t adopt Edmund Levy’s report, this is going to make waves. The Times of Israel writes:

The report concludes that the establishment of settlements in the West Bank does not breach international law, and that Jews can legally make their homes there. It states that “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and therefore the settlements and outposts are legal, since there is no provision in international law prohibiting Jewish settlement in the area.

The report recommends easing regulations on Jewish settlement in the West Bank by regulating zoning and planning, halting scheduled demolitions and planning building in accordance with population growth.

See Jeffrey Goldberg‘s response.

2. The Independent got a look a legal opinion asserting that EU members can legally “ban the import of settlement produce on public policy grounds.”

He argues that member states wishing to block the import of produce from settlements could “have recourse” to the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel, which stipulates that the agreement “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.” He argues that, by executing such a ban on trade with settlements, the EU would not be in breach of its World Trade Organisation obligations since, “as a matter of international law, the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered to be Israel’s territory”.

3. Mohammed Morsi threws down the gauntlet to the military junta, ordering the dissolved parliament back. If you want to read more, you’re better off revisiting Foreign Policy’s Calvinball in Cairo. Otherwise, AP or Time suffices.

* * *

College students: apply today for the Blankfeld Award for Quality Journalism.

Israel and the Palestinians

Popular unrest in Ramallah continues. Khaled Abu Toameh describes a dance we’ve seen in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, etc.:

The Facebook and Twitter protesters say they have no political affiliations and that their only goal is to replace the old-guard leaders in Ramallah with young and charismatic faces.

The Palestinian Authority, however, says that the protests are part of a foreign conspiracy designed to undermine the leadership of Abbas and harm the interests of the Palestinians. Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah have gone as far as claiming that the US, Israel and even Hamas are behind the unrest. . . .

Yet in the absence of a credible and organized Palestinian opposition in the West Bank, it is most likely that Hamas will hijack any “Palestinian Spring.” Unfortunately, the young men and women who are leading the anti-Palestinian Authority campaign in the West Bank do not represent the majority. That is why a Palestinian Spring could quickly turn into an Islamist Spring, paving the way for Hamas to seize control over the West Bank.

Hamas is demolishing homes it says were built on government owned land. When the dust settles, more than 120 families will be left homeless.  Believe it or not, the Palestinians prefer Caterpillars for this kind of work.

Polonium

Le Figaro reports that French medical officials know more about Yasser Arafat’s death than they’ve let on. Details at the Christian Science Monitor. Meanwhile, Dr. Ely Karmon told the Jerusalem Post that the polonium found on Arafat’s clothes was planted:

Karmon said that the half-life of the substance would make it impossible for polonium to have been discovered at such high levels if it had been used to kill Arafat eight years ago . . .

Karmon added that the Al Jazeera report raised additional unanswered questions. Referring to the fact that Arafat’s widow, Suha, provided the researchers with Arafat’s belongings, Karmon asked: “If Suha Arafat safeguarded these contaminated materials, why, after seven years, was she not poisoned too? She touched these things and Arafat in hospital.”

See also NY Post columnist Benny Avni’s take on the polonium poisoning.

According to Haaretz (paywall), the Israeli government’s prepared to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a Bibi-Abbas summit.

Jerusalem Post: The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe rejected a Palestinian request for observer status.

Investigating the impact of settlements on Palestinians, the UN Human Rights Council tasked Christine Chanet of France; Unity Dow of Botswana; and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan. Israel will not cooperate with the inquiry.

Continued on Page 2

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