If a peaceful two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the goal of Israel’s leaders, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated, then the Levi Committee’s recommendations are anathema to that goal. Indeed, if the Israeli government were to adopt the recommendations that call for the legalization of Israeli settlement everywhere in the West Bank, a two-state solution to this conflict would become impossible.
The Committee’s recommendations would all but assure a “one-state” nightmare scenario, signal the end of Israel’s Jewish majority democracy by forcing Israel either to cede its Jewish character to the new Arab majority and remain democratic, or retain its Jewish majority and deny equal rights to Arab residents of Israel and lose its democracy. If Israel became the former, I fear she would lose much of Diaspora Jewry’s support, and if she became the latter she would invite unprecedented international pressure against her as a profoundly undemocratic state.
Further, the Levi Committee’s assertion that there is no Israeli occupation in the West Bank because, among other reasons, “it is impossible to foresee a time when Israel will relinquish these territories, if ever,” sends a dangerous signal to Palestinian leaders about the prospects for peaceably achieving a state for their people, and will give fodder to Palestinian extremists by unifying the Palestinian community as it prepares for the next war.
Truth to tell, there is nothing good or positive about the Levi Committee’s recommendations if Israel’s goal is a two-state solution to this conflict. It is irrelevant whether there is a legitimate argument about the “legality” of the settlements. It is irrelevant that Jews should have a right to live anywhere in the land including the West Bank just as Arabs live inside Israel. It is irrelevant that Israel occupies the West Bank because she won the war imposed upon her 45 years ago.
What is relevant is how the Jewish people will live in security and peace alongside a Palestinian state. What is relevant is how a partition of the land can be achieved. What is relevant is how the United States and the Quartet can assist these two peoples in making peace.
If Israel is more concerned about pursuing Truth (i.e. that it is justified historically, legally, and morally to hold onto the West Bank indefinitely) instead of pursuing peace as called upon by Jewish tradition, then it will adopt the Levi Committee’s recommendations. However, that would be a tragedy of historic proportions.
Those who love Israel should hope that her leaders stop its drift towards and acquiescence to the incessant demands of the settler community thereby destroying Israel’s future as a Jewish majority democracy.
Yes, Israel is justified in being suspect of Palestinian intentions and rightly concerned about threats from her enemies. However, for the sake of Israel’s democracy and Jewish character, the Israeli government should reject the committee’s recommendations and redouble efforts toward finding a two-state resolution to this conflict.