Israel should adopt the Levy Report but does not need to publicly announce that it is doing so, according to Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud).
“This is a difficult time for Israel because the pressures from all over the world limit the capabilities of the Israeli government, even if the government is sympathetic and very favorable towards the settlement enterprise,” Rivlin told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday.
“For some reason the settlement enterprise is being accused of being an obstacle to peace. Personally, I explain at each possible forum that the obstacle to peace is the objection by the Arabs to it and the fact that they do not want us here, but the fact is that this is the perception and therefore there is great pressure on the Israeli government,” He added, explaining the reasons which have led to the delay in adopting the conclusions of the Levy Report.
The Levy Report concluded that there is no “occupation” and international law allows Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, as its status was not that of a nation in 1967. It was presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this past summer after months of study by former High Court Justice Edmund Levy and two other legal experts.
Netanyahu effectively shelved the report by setting it aside for further study, but with elections coming up, it was reported that he would recommend that the government adopt part of the recommendations.
Netanyahu later gave up on bringing the report’s conclusions for government approval because of objection by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. MK Ze'ev Elkin indicated this week that Netanyahu was interested in bringing the conclusions to a discussion before January's elections.
“Regarding the report, I often say that when we want to do something which brings the end closer, we postpone it because then we cause others to stand up and demand that we not only cancel the report but also dismantle all the communities in Judea and Samaria,” said Rivlin, adding, “We need to strengthen the existing communities while ensuring there is no public outrage over the settlement enterprise. We can legalize the outposts without the Levy Report.”
Rivlin said that it may be more convenient for Israel to apply Israeli law in all of Judea and Samaria rather than adopt the principles of the Levy report. He said he believed it would be best for the government to act according to the conclusions of the report, without declaring to the world it was doing so and causing international outcry against Israel and the settlements.
“We don’t have to come out and say we are approving the Levy Report,” he said. “The land of Israel is settled through actions, not statements. The report is valuable in that it provides the Justice Ministry with the reasons to understand why there is no need to panic over all the same arguments that have been made against the settlement enterprise.”
Rivlin added, "We do not need to bring things that can be interpreted by others as a provocation, even though this is certainly not a provocation.”
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) has challenged Netanyahu not to wait for elections and to approve the Levy Report.
Danny Dayan, chairman of Yesha, told Arutz Sheva, “I think that the duty of the government that named the commission is to approve its recommendations. The government cannot postpone it to the next government.
“We are talking about correcting discrimination against Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria...and you cannot postpone things like that.”