The government on Sunday is set to approve the establishment of a committee on
West Bank settlements that would remove the issue from the purview of the full
cabinet and place it in the hands of 11 ministers.
It will deal with
issues of policy, construction authorizations and demolitions, including the
creation of new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
committee would amend a 1996 governmental decision, #150, taken during Binyamin
Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister.
According to decision 150 the
creation of new West Bank settlements must have the approval of the full
An official cautioned on Thursday that just because the
committee had the power to authorize new settlements, does not mean that it
would do so.
The creation of the ministerial committee would, however,
leave intact a portion of the 1996 decision, which states that the defense
minister’s approval is required to allocate land or okay planning decisions for
West Bank settlements.
The new committee would have the authority to
formulate government policy with respect to unauthorized construction, both on
state land and on private Palestinian property.
It would also formulate
the principles and policy by which the state would respond to petitions to the
High Court of Justice on land issues in the West Bank.
would carry the weight of a cabinet vote. Ministers would not be able to appeal
The creation of the committee is a direct response to politicians
who have longed wanted such a body.
Still, it fails to address one of
their main demands, that Defense Minister Ehud Barak be stripped of his power
with respect to the settlements.
Many right-wing politicians and
activists blame their frustrations with respect to Netanyahu’s settlement policy
It remains unclear if the committee would try to change the
government’s policy that unauthorized Jewish construction on private Palestinian
property must be removed.
The state based its response to the High Court
petitions with regard to unauthorized outposts on this policy. Decisions by the
court to mandate the demolition of Ulpana outpost by July 1 and Migron by August
1 were based in part on this policy.
Earlier this month, politicians
tried to change the policy by bringing a private member’s bill to the Knesset
plenum to retroactively legalize Jewish construction on private Palestinian
property under certain conditions.
Netanyahu blocked the legislation but
promised that he would create a ministerial settlement
Netanyahu will head the panel. Other members will include
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premiers
Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya’alon, Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin,
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan,
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Science and
Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.