Cabinet unlikely to consider Levy Report next week

A-G Weinstein asks ministries to refrain from major policy decisions until next government is sworn in.

Jordan valley settlement 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan valley settlement 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There were no plans on Thursday night to bring the Levy Report – which calls for transforming West Bank outposts into legal settlements – to Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Approval of the document – which also states that Israel has a legal right under international law to build in the West Bank – would reassure right-wing voters in advance of the elections, that the Likud Party truly supports Jewish settlement in the West Bank. But its passage would also likely antagonize the international community and the Palestinians, who believe that Israel is occupying that territory.
“The Levy Report simply reflects the position of a government that has chosen to turn occupation into annexation and to impose an Apartheid reality in Palestine [rather] than taking steps make peace possible,” Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday. “The international community has allowed Israel to breach international law with impunity by issuing statements that are not followed up with real political pressure.”
The 89-page, government-commissioned report by three top legal experts, including former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, was submitted to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in July.
At the time, Netanyahu said he would bring it before the Ministerial Settlements Committee, which has the power to approve it. But he still had not done so by the time the Knesset dissolved on Monday night following the call for early elections.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has issued a general directive asking ministries to refrain from making major policy decisions until the next government is sworn in. However, he does not specifically mention the Levy Report in the directive.
His spokesman said that Weinstein had not issued a public statement on the matter, but that in any event there were no plans to vote on it at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said that as of Thursday evening, he understood that Netanyahu was not bringing the report to the cabinet on Sunday.
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.
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, wrote a letter to Netanyahu and government ministers, urging them to approve the Levy Report.
He noted that previous attorney-generals had stated that during elections, the government still had the full authority to make decisions.
Edelstein said he hoped Netanyahu would bring the report to the cabinet in the coming weeks.
“I will do everything in my power to make sure that the report is brought for discussion and a vote by this government,” the minister said.