Gov't set to approve settlement committee

C'tee will be chaired by Netanyahu, have authority to authorize W. Bank Jewish construction without a full cabinet decision.

Settlement Construction 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Settlement Construction 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government on Sunday is set to approve a new ministerial committee on West Bank settlements that would remove the issue from the purview of the full cabinet and place it in the hands of 11 ministers.
It will deal with issues of policy, construction authorizations and demolitions, including the creation of new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Once approved, it would amend a 1996 governmental decision, #150, taken during Binyamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister. According to decision 150 the creation of new West Bank settlements must have the approval of the full government.
An official cautioned that just because the committee had the power to authorize new settlements, does not mean that it would.
The creation of the new ministerial committee, however, leaves intact a portion of the 1996 decision, which states that the Defense Minister must also approve land allocation and planning for West Bank settlements.
The new ministerial committee would have the ability to formulate governmental policy with respect to unauthorized construction, both on state land and on private Palestinian property.
It would also formulate the principles and policy by which the state would respond to petitions to the High Court of Justice on land issues in the West Bank.
Committee decision would carry the weight of a governmental vote. Ministers would not be able to appeal them.
The creation of the committee is a direct response to right wing politicians who have longed wanted such a committee.
Still it failed to address one of their main demands, that Defense Minister Ehud Barak be stripped of his power with respect to the settlements. Many right politicians and activists have funneled their frustrations with respect to Netanyahu’s settlement policy onto Barak.
It remains unclear if the newly formed committee would attempt to change the governments policy that unauthorized construction on private Palestinian property must be removed.
The state based its response to the High Court of Justice petitions with regard to unauthorized outposts on this policy. Decisions by the High Court of Justice to mandate the demolition of Ulpana outpost by July 1 and Migron by August 1, were based in part on this policy.
Earlier this month, politicians attempted to change the policy by bringing a private members bill to the Knesset plenum, which would retroactively legalize Jewish construction on private Palestinian property under certain conditions. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blocked the legislation, but at the time, promised that he would create a ministerial settlement committee.
Netanyahu will head the committee. Other members will include, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premiers Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya’alon, Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.