Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday backed the integrity of the three
members of the Edmond Levy Committee on the settlements after Vice Premier
Silvan Shalom implied they were selected because of their political
“These were professional people of the highest caliber who did
their work in an exemplary manner,” Netanyahu said of former Supreme Court
justice Levy, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser and ambassador to Canada
Alan Baker, and former deputy president of the Tel Aviv District Court Tchiya
Shapiro. “The members of the committee were appointed in accordance with all of
the necessary approvals, including those of Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Neeman
and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.”
Netanyahu’s comments came after
the disclosure Monday of a private meeting last month in Neveh Tzuf in Samaria,
in which Shalom was unknowingly taped and indicated the three were chosen
because of their backgrounds.
The committee concluded that the
settlements were legal under international law, and recommended that the
government approve unauthorized settlement outposts.
“Did the prime
minister not know when he appointed Edmond Levy, who is Edmond Levy?” he said.
“So I will tell you who is Edmond Levy. Edmond Levy was the deputy mayor of
Ramle from the Likud. He was a Likud man.”
Shalom said Netanyahu was not
unaware of whom he was appointing when he tapped Levy to head the
He also implied the same was true of the other two members of
the panel, saying that Baker was the legal adviser when he himself was the
foreign minister, and that Shapiro was the daughter of former chief rabbi Shlomo
Goren. “Did they not know who is the daughter of Rabbi Goren? Clearly this trio
was not supposed to come up with Talia Sasson’s report,” he said.
a former state prosecutor, wrote a report at the behest of then-prime minister
Ariel Sharon in 2005 that found that the government had been funneling funds to
illegal settlement outposts, some of which were built on Palestinian
Baker said Tuesday in an Israel Radio interview that he had never
spoken of his political affiliations. “Even my wife doesn’t know whom I vote
for,” he said.
He add that while Levy was a Likudnik 40 years ago, “he is
an extremely esteemed jurist and no one can cast doubt on his
Shalom’s office put out a statement saying he did not
verbalize anything that was not available on any Internet search engine. He also
said there was no implication in his words that the committee was not
Labor MK Eitan Cabel responded that Netanyahu was trying to
deceive the public through “political machinations.”