There were no plans on Thursday night to bring the Levy Report – which calls for
transforming West Bank outposts into legal settlements – to Sunday’s cabinet
Approval of the document – which also states that Israel has a
legal right under international law to build in the West Bank – would reassure
right-wing voters in advance of the elections, that the Likud Party truly
supports Jewish settlement in the West Bank. But its passage would also likely
antagonize the international community and the Palestinians, who believe that
Israel is occupying that territory.
“The Levy Report simply reflects the
position of a government that has chosen to turn occupation into annexation and
to impose an Apartheid reality in Palestine [rather] than taking steps make
peace possible,” Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on
Thursday. “The international community has allowed Israel to breach
international law with impunity by issuing statements that are not followed up
with real political pressure.”
The 89-page, government-commissioned report
by three top legal experts, including former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy,
was submitted to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in July.
At the time,
Netanyahu said he would bring it before the Ministerial Settlements Committee,
which has the power to approve it. But he still had not done so by the time the
Knesset dissolved on Monday night following the call for early
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has issued a general
directive asking ministries to refrain from making major policy decisions until
the next government is sworn in. However, he does not specifically mention the
Levy Report in the directive.
His spokesman said that Weinstein had not
issued a public statement on the matter, but that in any event there were no
plans to vote on it at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Public Diplomacy and
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said that as of Thursday
evening, he understood that Netanyahu was not bringing the report to the cabinet
There is some speculation that if Netanyahu were to bring the
document to the cabinet or the Ministerial Settlements Committee now, he would
only present a modified version, absent some of elements that the international
community would find most controversial.
Aside from its broad legal
opinion on the status of West Bank settlements under international law, the
report also argues that land disputes in the West Bank should be determined by a
separate judicial system created specifically to handle those cases. This would
include instances in which both Israelis and Palestinians claimed ownership of
the same tract of land.
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish
Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, wrote a letter to Netanyahu
and government ministers, urging them to approve the Levy Report.
noted that previous attorney-generals had stated that during elections, the
government still had the full authority to make decisions.
he hoped Netanyahu would bring the report to the cabinet in the coming
“I will do everything in my power to make sure that the report is
brought for discussion and a vote by this government,” the minister said.