Settler leaders lobby PM to pass Levy report

Protest outside Knesset planned for the week in support of report that says West Bank settlements are legal under int'l law.

Caravans in Psagot neighborhood 390 (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
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 law.
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 words.
He sat with other settler leaders on plastic chairs, next to a folding table set up on a Jerusalem sidewalk by the Knesset.
“The same 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.”
Kedumim 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 overdue.
“Netanyahu can transform the residents of Judea and Samaria from second-class citizens to those with equal rights,” Durani said.