US Jews slam Levy report on legalizing outposts

Report places two-state solution, Israel's standing in int'l community in peril, 40 US Jews write in letter to Netanyahu.

Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
Itamar settlement hilltop 311 R
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters)
More than 40 prominent American Jewish leaders and philanthropists condemned a government-initiated report, calling for the legalization of West Bank outposts, in a letter they delivered to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
The leaders wrote they were “deeply concerned” by the report, which said that under international law Israel did not occupy the West Bank and had a legal right to build settlements there.
Netanyahu plans to hold a debate on the report – published last Monday – with the Ministerial Committee on Settlements, which has the power to approve it. He is waiting to schedule that meeting until he receives an advisory opinion on the report from Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein.
But in their letter to Netanyahu the leaders said they were concerned that approval of the report would “place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.”
“At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state,” they added.
The report was penned by a three-member legal panel led 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. Dubbed the “Levy Report,” its conclusion flies in the face of the UN’s conclusion that settlements are illegal under international law – a view that enjoys much global support.
The Palestinians have also insisted they will only hold direct negotiations with Israel if halts settlement activity.
The US leaders called on Netanyahu to take a stand against the report.
“Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings,” they wrote.
They asked him to “ensure that adoption of this report does not take place.”
Signatories to the letter included: Michael Berenbaum, former project director of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington; Charles R. Bronfman, philanthropist; Lester Crown, chairman of the Henry Crown & Co. investment firm; Thomas A. Dine, former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion; Peter A. Joseph, chairman of the Israel Policy Forum; and Richard Pearlstone, former chairman of the Jewish Agency.
The letter was organized by the Israel Policy Forum, a nonpartisan US organization that advocates for Israel’s longterm security and a two-state solution.