Israel reportedly adopting pro-settler study

Government said to be embracing some provisions of report that recommended relaxing settlement building restrictions

Construction in the settlement of Ariel in January 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Construction in the settlement of Ariel in January 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Israel is adopting certain recommendations of a report that claims Israel is not occupying the West Bank, according to an unsourced report in an Israeli newspaper Tuesday.

The government-commissioned Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, authored by former Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levy in July 2012 and often referred to as the Levy Report, says that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank.

Based on that conclusion, the report recommended relaxing building restrictions for Israeli settlers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not called for government adoption of the report, but the Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday that Israel has taken on some of its recommendations.

According to Haaretz, there has been a reduction in Israel’s exercising its right to remove settlers from private Palestinian land if no Palestinian complains.

Haaretz also reported that Israel is considering setting up a special court for land disputes in the West Bank, a Levy Report recommendation that would remove the military from such disputes.

The Levy Report concludes that the establishment of settlements in the West Bank does not breach international law, and that Jews can legally make their homes there.

It states that “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and therefore the settlements and outposts are legal, since there is no provision in international law prohibiting Jewish settlement in the area.

The 2012 Levy Report recommended easing regulations on Jewish settlement in the West Bank by regulating zoning and planning, halting scheduled demolitions and planning building in accordance with population growth.

Justice Levy wrote that the settlement enterprise was created at the behest of the state, but criticized the lack of clear policy vis-a-vis construction and regulation.

At the time of its release the report received condemnation from opposition parties and rights organizations who urged Netanyahu to not adopt its recommendations. The US State Department said that it did not accept the document.

The findings of the Levy report are at odds with previous legal opinions, most notably the 2005 report by attorney Talia Sasson compiled for prime minister Ariel Sharon, which found that some 120 West Bank outposts were illegal.

The United Nations and much of the world consider Israel to be an occupying power in the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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