Shalom Irks Leftists with Levy Report Comments

Vice PM Silvan Shalom: Netanyahu knew who Judge Levy was when he appointed him. Leftists outraged.

Elad Benari ,

Silvan Shalom
Silvan Shalom
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Leftists are upset over remarks made by Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom regarding the author of the Levy Report, which 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.

The Walla! website on Monday quoted remarks made by Shalom during a political convention held last week in the Binyamin community of Neve Tzuf, in which he said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu knew exactly who Judge Edmund Levy, who headed the commission that authored the report, was when he elected him to head the committee.

“Regarding the Levy Report, did the Prime Minister not know who Edmund Levy was when he appointed him? So let me tell you: Edmund Levy was the deputy mayor of Ramle and he ran on behalf of the Likud,” Shalom said, according to the report.

“He was a Likud man, a resident of Ramle, a deputy mayor on behalf of the Likud, a legal prodigy and then Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit appointed him to be a judge based on a deal with Chief Justice Aharon Barak,” added Shalom. “He did not connect to the experience of being a Supreme Court judge, he was a sort of Lone Ranger. So when the Prime Minister appointed him, did he not understand who he is?”

Walla! reported that Shalom also referred to the two other members of the Levy Committee, Alan Baker and Tehiya Shapira, saying, “When the Prime Minister appointed Baker, do you think we did not know who is Alan Baker? He was legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry when I was in the Foreign Ministry. Did we not know who that was?”

“Obviously this trio was not appointed to provide a report like the Sasson Report,” Shalom said, referring to the 2005 report by Attorney Talia Sasson, a candidate on the leftist Meretz’s Knesset list. Sasson was appointed by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to author a now-discredited report on outposts in Judea and Samaria.

The Levy Report was presented to Netanyahu this past summer after months of study by Justice Levy and the two other 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. Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin subsequently indicated that Netanyahu was interested in bringing the conclusions to a discussion before January's elections. This has yet to happen, however.

There have been calls for Netanyahu to adopt the conclusions of the Levy Report as a response to the Palestinian Authority’s recent unilateral move at the United Nations.

As expected, leftists were outraged over Shalom’s remarks, as they perceived them to be suggesting that Netanyahu purposely appointed Levy so he would determine that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are legal. They did not condemn the appointment of Talia Sasson so she would purposely say that these communities are illegal.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon was quoted by the Yisrael Hayom daily as having said that "it was clear to anyone with eyes at the top of his head that the conclusions of the committee are legally baseless and politically harmful. If the conclusions are adopted, the ministers who appointed him will end up in The Hague.”

The leftist organization Peace Now also condemned Shalom's remarks, saying, “The Levy Committee was rigged. The Prime Minister should shelve its conclusions and throw them into the dustbin of history.”

Another condemnation came from Tzipi Livni’s newly formed party, which said, “The discovery is not surprising to anyone, because this government’s entire attitude towards democracy and the rule of law is manipulative.” MK Meir Sheetrit, mentioned in Shalom’s comments as having appointed Levy to the Supreme Court, recently joined Livni’s party.

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan was unfazed by the comments, saying, according to Yisrael Hayom, “The excitement over Shalom’s remarks is unclear to me. Were these three not good lawyers? It is only natural that the government will ask jurists to make recommendations that are on the one hand consistent with the law and that also comply with the policy of the government.”

The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, said, "We did not hear the chorus of the extreme left when Talia Sasson was appointed. The allegations against Judge Levy are politically motivated and hypocritical. Being a deputy mayor 30 years ago is not an offense. Conversely, Talia Sasson was known as a radical leftist and when she was appointed, the left remained silent. Judge Levy is a first-rate legal authority.”