Settler leaders on Monday night held an emergency meeting to draw up a battle plan to lobby for passage of the Levy Report, which states that West Bank settlements are legal under Israeli law.
“The days of patient waiting are over. We need an action plan. This government cannot end its term without approving the report,” said Dani Dayan, head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
“We won’t have another opportunity,” said Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani.
Should the government fail to authorize the report, rightwing parties should make its passage part of their coalition agreement with the next government, Dayan said.
He and other settler leaders, who gathered in the basement room of a Jerusalem hotel, lent their voices to calls by the right flank of the Likud party to approve the government commissioned report now.
Among other things, the 89-page document – written by a team led by former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy – calls for outposts to be legalized as settlements when possible. It was submitted to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in July.
Hours before the leaders met, the Construction and Housing Ministry issued tenders for 607 homes in the east Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, as well as for 92 units in the nearby Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that she was still studying the announcement and did not know if these were new projects or ones publicized earlier this summer.
But settler leaders said one of the important acts Netanyahu can do for the West Bank settlements is to approve the Levy Report in its entirety.
Levy lauded Netanyahu for commissioning the report, but added, “this achievement turns into a loss if its not authorized.”
Each day the government fails to adopt the report, it is as if they are rejecting it, he said.
Dayan added that failure to pass it is a de facto approval of the 2005 government-commissioned report by attorney Talia Sasson, which concluded that outposts were illegal.
“The Levy Report is truthful, the Sasson Report is false,” said Dayan.
The issue of the report was raised Sunday at the weekly Likud ministerial meeting, at which point Netanyahu asked that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein issue an opinion on the matter by the end of the week.
But Weinstein has already sent out a memo to ministries asking them to refrain from making major policy decision now that the country is heading towards elections, and the present government is a transitory one.
There is also some speculation that Netanyahu may bring forward an amended version of the report. Its passage in full is likely to antagonize both the international community and the Palestinians, who believe that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is illegal.
Dayan took a jab at Netanyahu when he recalled that it was the prime minister who had called for early elections.
“He did so, knowing that he had not authorized the report,” he said.
Lahiani added that the report provides Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria with the legitimization that they had longed deserved.
“We did not come here like thieves in the night,” he said, of his 30 years living in the Jordan Valley.