Caravans in Psagot neighborhood 390.
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu weighs bringing the Levy Report on
legalizing West Bank outposts to the cabinet, settler leaders on Monday held a
small protest outside the Knesset.
The leaders plan to sit there
throughout the week, as part of their lobby to get Netanyahu to approve the
report, which states that West Bank settlements are legal under international
At Sunday’s weekly Likud ministerial meeting, Netanyahu said that
his office is in the middle of discussing legal questions related to a cabinet
vote on the report with Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. The talks are lead by
cabinet secretary Tzvika Hauser.
The attorney-general has not issued a
statement on the matter, but he has advised ministries not to make major policy
changes now that early elections have been called, and the present government is
a transitory one.
Netanyahu wants to bring the report to the cabinet with
Weinstein’s full support. He has, however, not excluded the possibility that he
might push forward, even without such approval.
At Sunday’s ministerial
meeting, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that the report was not an
election issue, because it had been commissioned, authored and submitted before
the Knesset disbanded.
Passage of the Levy Report is likely to play well
among rightwing voters, but such a move is likely to antagonize the
international community, which believes that West Bank settlements are illegal
under international law.
On Monday, Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of
Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, echoed Sa’ar
He sat with other settler leaders on plastic chairs, next to a
folding table set up on a Jerusalem sidewalk by the Knesset.
government that commissioned the report must pass it,” said Dayan. Karnei
Shomron Council head Herzl Ben-Ari said, “There is no justification for leaving
this [passage of the Levy Report] for the next government.”
council head Hananel Durani said he did not believe that the issue was
Weinstein’s legal opinion.
“If Netanyahu wants to do this, he has the
power to do it. He has proven this,” Durani said.
He and other
settler leaders said that the report would improve the standing of West Bank
settlements within Israel’s legal system, a move that they believe is long
“Netanyahu can transform the residents of Judea and Samaria from
second-class citizens to those with equal rights,” Durani said.