Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday praised a new government-initiated
report calling for the legalization of West Bank outposts, but stopped short of
pledging to transform the unauthorized Jewish communities into new
“In my opinion, this report is important because it deals
with the legalization and the legitimization of the settlement enterprise in
Judea and Samaria on the basis of facts, a variety of facts and arguments that
should be seriously considered,” he said.
Netanyahu added that the
Ministerial Committee on Settlements would debate and decide the matter. The
committee has the full authority to implement the report.
politicians immediately hailed the document, which provided a legal argument in
support of authorizing illegal Jewish construction in the West Bank on state
land. It also called for the creation of a new court to adjudicate land disputes
regarding Jewish building on private Palestinian property.
penned by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy, former Foreign Ministry
legal adviser Alan Baker and former deputy president of the Tel Aviv District
Court Tehiya Shapira was released publicly on Monday and given to members of the
Ministerial Committee on Settlements on Sunday. It has already been dubbed the
“The report restores historical justice to thousands of
families in Judea and Samaria [that live in outposts] who have been harmed over
the years,” said Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud).
politicians such as MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) slammed the report, saying that
the committee was formed only to “justify the vermin of illegal outposts after
the High Court and the attorney-general were not good enough for
“Efforts to create a virtual reality will not help Netanyahu.
Settlements are not legal, and neither are outposts,” Gal-On said.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni said that the future of settlements is a diplomatic
matter, not a legal one, and should be based on the possibility of a future
“It is possible and necessary to use the Levy Report for
matters of international law, while considering the current reality and continue
negotiations on settlement blocs,” Livni stated.
The Palestinians have
refused to directly negotiate with Israel until it halts West Bank settlement
activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Israel in turn has in the
past promised the international community that it will not build new
The Palestinian Authority dismissed the report. Nabil Abu
Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said there was no such
thing as legal and illegal settlements.
All settlements are illegal under
international law, he said. Abu Rudaineh called on Israel to stop settlement
activities and restrain settlers if it is interested in reaching
But the report argued that settlement activity was legal under
both international law and domestic Israeli law.
Its conclusions flew in
the face of a 2005 report by attorney Talia Sasson commissioned by former prime
minister Ariel Sharon. Sasson compiled a list of 105 unauthorized outposts built
between 1991 and 2005, arguing they had been illegally constructed and should be
Until the Levy Report, her document was the only substantive
Israeli report on the matter – and the Levy Report built on Sasson’s work. It
did not re-quantify the number of settlements but rather looked at the legal
issues surrounding the problem and made recommendations on how to solve
Right-wing politicians who have long pushed for an alternative to
Sasson’s document, hailed Levy’s work as a worthy replacement.
report proves Sasson’s report was political from the beginning to the end. For
Sasson, blossoming communities and entire neighborhoods that were built with
state encouragement and support are illegal outposts.
office should view the Levy Report as a guidebook and not veer from it,” said
Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi), who is a
member of the Ministerial Committee on Settlements.
Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who is also a committee member, said “I will
work to ensure the government adopts the report’s conclusion and to give a clear
future and stability for tens of thousands of families after dozens of
“Finally, legal and historic justice has been done, following the
twister political stances based on the Meretz activist Talia Sasson’s report,”
Erdan said he would demand that the response of the
Attorney-General’s Office to legal issues involving settlements be based on the
Levy Report. The attorney-general has yet to comment on the
Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, who is also a committee
member, said he welcomed the report as “a resident of a settlement in Judea and
Samaria, and [as] the public diplomacy minister who fights to express the
natural right to settle [there] and not apologize for it. However, the real test
is the report’s adoption.”
Two other committee members of the 11-member
panel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Interior Minister
Eli Yishai (Shas), expressed their support for the implementation of the
National Union MKs raved about the document, with MK Uri Ariel
saying it is one of the “most worthy and just reports written.” MK Arieh Eldad
said the report “smashes into pieces the mantra of ‘occupation’ as far as
international law is concerned,” and called for an end to the “Muslim occupation
of the Land of Israel that began 1,300 years ago.”
MK Tzipi Hotovely
(Likud) on Monday drafted a bill based on the Levy Report, which calls for a
judicial tribunal on land ownership issues and applying construction and
planning laws to the West Bank.
Hotovely has yet to submit the
legislation, and is seeking support from right-wing parties for her
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.