After months of delay, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday appointed a
three-person judicial panel – nicknamed the “outpost committee” – to examine
land ownership issues in Judea and Samaria.
The panel is composed of
former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser
Alan Baker and former Tel Aviv District Court deputy president Tchia Shapira. It
is due to report to the Prime Minister’s Office within three months.
newly formed committee marks only the second time the Prime Minister’s Office
has commissioned a report to deal with the issue of West Bank outposts. The
first was in 2005. That report was written by private attorney Talia
It is expected that this new report will address some of the
issues that have since been raised with respect to Sasson’s report;
specifically, her classification of private Palestinian property.
Israeli official said that Sasson’s association with the left-wing Meretz party
a number of years later harmed her report’s legitimacy.
It was therefore
important that a wider legal panel explore this issue, the official
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said on Monday, “I believe that this
committee will bury the Talia Sasson report, which was a political, one-sided
document against the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.”
said that her work was professional and not influenced by politics. The
attorney-general approved it before it was submitted to the government in 2005,
She noted that she ran for the Knesset with Meretz four years
after she completed the report. “I was not so political when I prepared the
report,” she said.
Those who attack the document, she said, were “running
away” from answering difficult questions regarding illegal West Bank Jewish
The proper response to that activity was not to supplant
the report by appointing a new committee, she said.
The word “outpost”
was not included in the carefully worded message from the Prime Minister’s
Office regarding the new panel. But even before Netanyahu and Justice Minister
Yaakov Neeman created the committee, it earned the nickname “outpost committee.”
It is widely expected that it will examine the status of outposts built on
private Palestinians land.
For months, right-wing politicians, both in
and outside the Likud, urged Netanyahu to form the committee in hopes that
pending outpost demolitions could be staved off if land recognized as private
Palestinian property was re-classified as state land.
The issue of
outpost demolitions is particularly acute given that the High Court of Justice
has ordered the state to demolish the Migron outpost by the end of
The state has also promised the court that it will demolish three
other sites by year’s end – the Ulpana, Givat Assaf and Amona
All four are located on land classified by the state as
belonging to private Palestinians.
The new report, however, is expected
to be completed only after the deadline for the demolition of Migron, which is
located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank, and is home to 50
An Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post that the report was
not expected to affect the issue of Migron.
The best solution for Migron
residents would be to accept the compromise solution offered to them by
Netanyahu to voluntarily relocate to a nearby piece of state land, the official
The official stressed that the prime minister’s policy on outposts
had not changed. Those unauthorized communities built on private Palestinian
property must be removed according to the law, the official said.
Ofran of Peace Now attacked the committee and said its creation was one more
step by the state toward the legalization of West Bank outposts.
surprised that justice Edmund Levy would agree to take on the task of
authorizing stolen property,” Ofran said.
She added that she hoped the
committee would conclude that such “theft” should not be
Sasson said that in the past, Levy had taken stands in
support of the settlements.
Before 2005’s pullout from the Gaza Strip,
Levy was the only Supreme Court justice, out of an 11-member legal panel, who
opposed the government’s disengagement plan, she said.
“I have no
expectations from this government,” she said. “If the committee’s purpose is to
provide a legal way to take private Palestinian land and to let the settlers
stay there, this is unjust. I am very sorry that a former Supreme Court justice
has taken this issue on this shoulders.
“The whole thing is quite sad
because we are talking about Israeli democracy,” Sasson said.
Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip, said of Levy, “he is an unbiased person, no doubt about it.” All
three panel members are “highly prestigious” lawyers and jurists, Dayan
He greeted the committee’s appointment with cautious
“The most important thing is that it was established finally,
at last, and that it has a green light to start working,” Dayan said.
he said that what needed to happen was for the government to change its policy
with respect to the outposts.
Whether this happens with the help of the
committee or in another way, “the important thing is to see a change,” he
But Minister of Sports and Culture Limor Livnat (Likud), who first
urged Netanyahu to create this committee back in October, said she hoped that
its work would show that the settlers were emissaries of the state who had gone
to live in outposts at its urging.
“I hope that this panel will succeed
in authorizing communities and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria,” Livnat said.