Opposition slams plan to adopt settlement report

Netanyahu reportedly plans to bring Levy Committee conclusions on settlement construction for ministerial approval.

Ma’aleh Levona 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ma’aleh Levona 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The opposition on Wednesday slammed a reported plan by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring the Levy Report on settlement construction for ministerial approval just days after dissolving the Knesset.
The Levy Report, published three months ago by retired Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy, found that Israeli settlement in the West Bank is legal under international law and recommended that the government avoid demolishing illegal outposts. It further declared that Israel's rule over the West Bank does not constitute a belligerent military occupation as it applies under the Fourth Geneva Conventions.
Israel Radio reported Wednesday morning that Netanyahu plans to bring portions of the report to the Ministerial Committee for Settlements for approval.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak came out against the prospect of the government adopting the report, saying that doing so "would not contribute to strengthening settlements in the West Bank, but would (cause) diplomatic damage to Israel and deepen its isolation in the world."
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich also slammed Netanyahu's intent to adopt the report, saying it is "a transparent elections scheme" that will not help the settlers in the West Bank, and will not contribute to Israel's security or intentional stance.
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 gasoline."
"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 warned.
Kadima MK Nachman Shai also accused the prime minister of enslaving the future of the State of Israel and its Jewish identity and its democratic nature for narrow and short-termed political gains.
"In the recent spirit of Feiglinism that affected the Likud, the State of Israel will turn into a binational state that abandons the Zionist vision on which it was formed. This is a bad delusional idea," Shai said.
Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On warned of the consequences of adopting the Levy Report, saying it will "lead to sanctions on Israel and to an international isolation of Israel."
She accused Netanyahu of serving the political interests of the extremist Right, saying he is looking to create "an Apartheid" and preparing "the infestation of illegal settlements to annex territories rather than the people living in them."
"The Levy Committee that determined that the territories are not conquered has made an ideological stance that has no relation to the real legal status," Gal-On added.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) told Israel Radio that adopting the Levy Report does not necessarily mean extending Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Katz asserted that adopting the report could help regularize and normalize life in the West Bank settlements.
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 Report.
"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.
Netanyahu plans to modify the legal procedures that delayed building in Judea and Samaria up to this point, while avoiding "international legal landmines" that could be met with difficulties with the Supreme Court and with the International Court of Justice, according to Israel Radio.
In July, Netanyahu praised the Levy Committee for its serious work, saying the report "addresses the question of the legality and legitimacy of the settlements in Judea and Samaria on the basis of facts and claims that must be seriously examined."
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.