The government on Sunday is set to approve a new ministerial 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.
it 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 that just because the committee had the
power to authorize new settlements, does not mean that it would.
creation of the new ministerial committee, however, leaves intact a portion of
the 1996 decision, which states that the Defense Minister must also approve land
allocation and planning for West Bank settlements.
The new ministerial
committee would have the ability to formulate governmental policy with respect
to unauthorized construction, both on state land and on private Palestinian
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.
Committee decision would carry the weight of a
governmental vote. Ministers would not be able to appeal them.
creation of the committee is a direct response to right wing politicians who
have longed wanted such a committee.
Still it failed to address one of
their main demands, that Defense Minister Ehud Barak be stripped of his power
with respect to the settlements. Many right politicians and activists have
funneled their frustrations with respect to Netanyahu’s settlement policy onto
It remains unclear if the newly formed committee would attempt to
change the governments policy that unauthorized construction on private
Palestinian property must be removed.
The state based its response to the
High Court of Justice petitions with regard to unauthorized outposts on this
policy. Decisions by the High Court of Justice to mandate the demolition of
Ulpana outpost by July 1 and Migron by August 1, were based in part on this
Earlier this month, politicians attempted to change the policy by
bringing a private members bill to the Knesset plenum, which would retroactively
legalize Jewish construction on private Palestinian property under certain
conditions. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blocked the legislation, but at
the time, promised that he would create a ministerial settlement
Netanyahu will head the committee. Other members will include,
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premiers
Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya’alon, Minister-without-Portfolio Benny 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.