A blindfolded Tal Harris urges the Israeli government to open their eyes and see the inherent dangers in adopting a report by a government-appointed committee that promotes West Bank settlement expansion.
New York, July 10, 2012—Dozens of OneVoice activists assembled outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv’s Kiriya Complex on Tuesday to protest against an Israeli government-appointed committee’s report, which recommended legalizing the majority of West Bank outposts.
Wearing blindfolds, OneVoice Israeli activists warned against government blindness toward the dangers inherent in adopting the report. They held up banners that read, “Enough with the blindness; enough with the freeze in negotiations,” and urged Defense Minister Ehud Barak to open his eyes.
“Adopting the Levy report is akin to shutting one's eyes,” said Tal Harris, executive director of OneVoice Israel. “We stand blindfolded in front of Defense Minister Barak’s office to scorn the government’s cowardly conduct.”
The committee of three jurists, led by retired Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy, argued the West Bank was not under Israeli military occupation given that “no other legal entity has ever had its sovereignty over the area cemented under international law.” They proposed legalizing unauthorized outposts on Palestinian land and regulating settlement construction to enable “natural growth.”
“Excuses, framed in legal terms, that promote settlement expansion and ignore the 1967 lines, do not excuse inaction toward ending the conflict,” said Harris. “Legal or not, the conflict is a risk to our state and invites the next round of bloodshed.”
The international community considers the territories that Israel conquered during 1967 Six-Day War to be under occupation, and accordingly views all settlements built on them as illegal.
Responding to the report, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”
Passersby showed support for the actions OneVoice youth activists were taking, and many of them signed their petition to stop settlement activity in the West Bank and restart stalled negotiations toward the two-state solution.
Since June, OneVoice’s Israeli activists have been mobilizing in a different major city each week by wearing heavy winter coats symbolizing the need to freeze the settlement policy and unfreeze peace talks. They’ve held protests outside the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem and annual education conference in Tel Aviv, grabbing local and national news headlines.
Dozens of OneVoice Israel's activists assembled outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv’s Kiriya Complex on Tuesday to warn against a government-appointed committee’s report, proposing to legalize the majority of West Bank outposts.