Livnat: Gov't must adopt Levy report on settlements

Likud minister says government has "legal, political authority to adopt report" which states settlements are legal under Israeli law.

October 21, 2012 12:19
2 minute read.
Palestinians work on a construction site

Settlement construction 260 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )


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Likud Minister Limor Livnat called on the government to adopt the Levy report, which states that West Bank settlements are legal under Israeli law.

"Netanyahu's government must act immediately to adopt the report by [former Supreme Court] Judge Edmund Levy," Livnat said on Sunday at her party’s ministerial meeting.

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Last week politicians on the right and the left speculated that Netanyahu planned to bring the government commissioned report to the cabinet for approval on Sunday.

As of Sunday morning, however, it was not on the cabinet’s agenda, and it appeared that this was unlikely to happen.

Last week Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote a memo to the ministries urging them not to make any major policy decisions, now the country was heading to elections.

He has not issued any specific statement about the Levy report, which was handed to Netanyahu in July. At the time Netanyahu promised to bring it to the Ministerial Committee on Settlements, which has the full power to approve it.

But he failed to do so before the Knesset disbanded last week, and early elections were called.

On Sunday, Livnat said, that Weinstein has no legal reason by which to prevent the cabinet from adopting the Levy report.

"We are not a transitional government, we are a sitting government. We have the full legal and political authority to adopt the report,” Livnat said.

She recalled that after elections were announced in 2008, she turned to the attorney general at the time Menahem Mazuz and asked him to halt the negotiations that former Ehud Olmert was conducting with the Syrian, on the grounds that he now led a transitional government.

Mazuz responded with a clear opinion that a transitional government has the full authority to make decisions, according to a 2001 decision by the High Court of Justice, Livnat said.

"It can't be that there is one judgment for a left wing government and another one for a right wing one," she said.

"Adopting the Levy report, is a historically just act that that will right the wrongs caused to the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria by the [2005 Talia] Sasson report [on West Bank outposts],” she said.

Approval of the document – which also states that West Bank outposts should be transformed into legal settlements – would reassure right-wing voters in advance of the elections, that the Likud Party truly supports Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. But its passage would also likely antagonize the international community and the Palestinians, who believe that Israel is occupying that territory.

There is some speculation that if Netanyahu were to bring the document to the cabinet or the Ministerial Settlements Committee now, he would only present a modified version, absent some of elements that the international community would find most controversial.

Aside from its broad legal opinion on the status of West Bank settlements under international law, the report also argues that land disputes in the West Bank should be determined by a separate judicial system created specifically to handle those cases. This would include instances in which both Israelis and Palestinians claimed ownership of the same tract of land.

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