As they head out on the campaign trail, right-wing Likud politicians are calling
on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to approve the “Levy Report,” which states
that West Bank settlements are legal under international law.
calls on the government to transform West Bank outposts on state land into legal
When the government-commissioned report was first published
in July, Netanyahu promised to bring it to the Ministerial Settlements
Committee, which has the power to approve it.
But he has yet to make good
on his pledge, in spite of continued requests by politicians on the Right in his
party to do so.
They believe the report’s passage would garner them more
votes and make it easier for them to explain that the Likud is a right-wing
party that supports West Bank settlements – even though it destroyed the Migron
and Ulpana outposts this summer.
Likud Ministers Yuli Edelstein and
Gideon Sa’ar in particular have lobbied Netanyahu to approve the
On Wednesday, in response to strong rumors that Netanyahu planned
to bring the report to the cabinet Sunday at its annual meeting, politicians on
the Right and the Left issued a flurry of comments on the matter.
Prime Minister’s Office said that they did not know of any formal decision to
bring the report to either the Ministerial Settlements Committee or the
Still, right-wing politicians, including those from other
parties, publicly urged Netanyahu to adopt the report, while the left-wing
accused him of playing politics at the nation’s expense.
stance runs counter to many opinions in the international legal community,
including the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which holds that the
West Bank as occupied territory.
Irrespective of any legal argument,
adoption of the Levy Report is likely to make it even more difficult to thaw the
frozen peace talks with the Palestinians.
Foreign Minister Avigdor
Liberman wrote a message on Facebook that called on Netanyahu to approve the
He said that “the conclusions of the committee, that Judea
and Samaria are not areas under military occupation, even under international
law, and that the settlements there are not contrary to international law are
correct and important conclusions to be adopted by the
Liberman said it would strengthen the state and solve many
problems on both the national and international level.
Ehud Barak (Independence) gave a long interview to Army Radio in which he
accused Likud politicians of falling prey to election fever.
that he had just received a flu shot and suggested that they similarly inoculate
themselves against “primary- itis” before it takes control of them all
Such pre-election initiatives might play well in the polls, but
would otherwise be harmful to the nation, he said.
Netanyahu should wait
until after the Likud primaries before bringing the report to the cabinet, by
way of ensuring a rational decision that matches the reality on the ground and
Israel’s diplomatic needs, Barak said.
“It will harm Israel, it will
weaken the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria and increase Israel’s
isolation in the international community,” Barak said.
He explained that
he supported Jewish West Bank settlement in the blocs, but that it was clear
that Israel would have to withdraw from areas in which isolated settlement were
located in exchange for a two-state solution.
If adopting the Levy Report
would strengthen Israel’s stance in future negotiations, improve its security
and insure the future of settlements that should remain part of Israel, “then I
would support it,” Barak said.
“But it won’t,” he added.
leader Shelly Yacimovich said that the initiative to bring the report forward
now was “a transparent elections scheme.”
Yacimovich accused Netanayhu of
“trying to bring back a fictitious argument between the Right and Left that does
not exist anymore,” as a way to divert the attention away from the socioeconomic
state of affairs.
Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson told Israel Radio that the
government is “playing with a flame-thrower over a barrel of
“Netanyahu’s government wants to enslave the State of Israel
for the sake of political interests and we will pay the price for that,” Hasson
Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) told Israel Radio
that adopting the Levy Report does not necessarily mean extending Israeli
sovereignty over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
that adopting the report could help regularize and normalize life in the West
Likud MK Danny Danon said on Wednesday that he is
working on recruiting support from the US Congress in order to help create
international legitimation for the implementation of the Levy
“The main argument against adopting the Levy Report’s conclusions
is the international criticism Israel will receive,” Danon said. “By recruiting
direct support from Congress, a rare historical opportunity will arise to
promote the initiative,” he added.
Already on Sunday, Edelstein sent a
letter to Netanyahu asking him to approve the report, explaining that it would
normalize life for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
report’s recommendations is a new legal system to handle property disputes,
particularly with respect to Jewish homes built on private Palestinian
The report was penned by three legal experts: former Supreme
Court justice Edmund Levy, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker and
former deputy president of the Tel Aviv District Court Tehiya Shapira.