Levy report and NYT getting basic facts wrong

I complained earlier about the sensationalism around the recent Levy Committee Report in Israel. I am looking in more detail at the parts that have been translated into English, and the more I see, the more vindicated my gut reaction seems to have been (ie this was completely blown out of proportion).

I also just went back and read the New York Times editorial that the anti-Israel left have been raving about since it slammed the report. What I saw was a little embarrassing for a paper of the Times‘ repute:

Wrong Time for New Settlements in the West Bank – NYTimes.com.

Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”


  • There is no “world court”. The editorial must be referring to the International Court of Justice, which issued an advisory opinion (not a ruling) in 2004 that related to the security barrier being built by Israel and only tangentially to the construction of settlements. There are a lot of other issues with the judgment, but they are beyond the purview of this post.
  • The Fourth Geneva Convention prevents civilian populations from being forceably transferred onto land that is under belligerent occupation. That is not the same as “settling”.
  • That is what you call selective quoting. Res 242 did call for that, but the next paragraph called for this:

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

It’s funny how the anti-Israel crowd likes to forget that part. There is also the fact that the Resolution called for withdrawal from “lands captured”, not “all lands” — Israel has already withdraw from “lands” and has committed to withdrawing from other lands if a viable deal is reached. The other parties to the 1967 conflict? Well, Egypt complied with that second condition… 12 years later. It took Jordan another 15 years after Egypt and we have yet to see Lebanon or Syria even consider it, never mind the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

Whatever else may be said about the Levy report, this is just sloppy journalism from the Times. Shame really.

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  1. #1 by Wallace Edward Brand on August 18, 2012 - 2:39 am

    I think the Levy Report is correct. It traces the roots of Jewish sovereignty over that part of Palestine formerly known as CisJordan, Palestine West of the Jordan River to the grant of exclusive political rights to World Jewry inrecognition of the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and of the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country. In Article II of the Mandate, the agreemen was not just for a “national home”, but for a “Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions.”
    But it limits the grant in Article II by putting it in trust of a British Mandatory Power because it was intended that sovereignty would not vest in the Jewish people in Palestine until they attained a population majority. They had been a plurality of the population in Jerusalem as long ago as 1845 and a majority since 1963 but in 1917 they were only about 60,000 of a total population of 600,000 in Palestine. Opponents of the Balfour Declaration argued that it would be anti-democratic to give a 10% minority of the population rule over 600,000 people. But the British Foreign Office in a memorandum of September 19, 1917, written by Arnold Toynbee and Lewis Namier, said that they agreed with the “antidemocratic” argument in principle, but as applied to the proposed Balfour Declaration it would be “imaginary” as he grant would be in trust, and the rights to sovereignty would not vest until the Jews had attained a population majority. So what was invisioned was a two step process in which the first step was a national home while immigration from the diaspora was being facilitated as provided in the mandate or trust agreement, and there was also a provision prohibiting the trustee from ceding any of the trust res to a foreign power during the long estimated time it would take for the Jews to reach a population majority. The Zionist Organization was the official advistor to the trustee. When England abandoned its trust, the best claim to the trust res would be that of the beneficiary, world Jewry, and to their agent, the Government of Israel. In any event, the UN had permitted Israel to announce its independence in 1948 and by 1950 in any event the Jews had attained a population majority within the boundaries of the land they held under the Armistice agreement. This is all the land within the so called Green Line. They had additionally gained sovereignty over that land in the historic way, by announcing their independence and holding their rights by force of arms and with their own blood and treasure. In 1967 they liberated the rest of the land granted in the 1920 San Remo resolution.

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