The Levy report stands in stark contrast to the 2005 report by former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Sasson, commissioned by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, which condemned the state for building illegal Jewish communities, calling the government’s support of Jewish growth in the areas a “blatant violation of the law” and urging “drastic steps” be taken to reverse the trend. Just four months later, the religious, Iraqi-born Justice Levy would be the only Supreme Court judge to dissent in a Supreme Court decision declaring the forced expulsion of Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip communities of Gush Katif legal.
Sasson, a member of the left-wing Meretz party and a formulator of the Geneva Initiative, slammed the Levy report on Monday, stating that the Supreme Court is the only body with standing to determine the legality of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and that the Levy committee’s findings are therefore legally irrelevant. The committee’s report is seen as a threat to the current power of the attorney general as the sole advisor to the government on legal issues.
That position has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s unilateral determination and presentation to the Supreme Court that the houses of Ulpana Hill in Beit El were built on Palestinian land, despite an ongoing lower court case to determine that fact. The court did not investigate the veracity of the State Attorney’s presentation, but accepted it and issued orders for demolition of the homes.
Yesh Din, the human rights group that conceived and championed the case before the High Court that the Ulpana homes were built on Palestinian land, has refused to cooperate with the Levy committee, saying it will only work with the Attorney General.
In an interview with The Times of Israel, Sasson rejected the notion that Prime Minister Netanyahu aims to create a Palestinian state. She lamented that “everything bad that could be happening is happening,” namely the authorization of new Jewish communities to be built in Judea and Samaria, such as a new community in place of Migron. “I can only look at what he does. And that’s what scares the hell out of me, because from what he’s doing I see that he wants to enlarge as much as he can – building in the territories indiscriminately,” she said.
Despite the historic nature of the findings by a government committee, to what degree the report will be applied in government policy remains to be seen.
On the small scale, the report could have some big ramifications for Jewish communities which have long fought for their rights to expand and build.
“If the government adopts the report’s findings and conclusions, theoretically they could give us back [our recently purchased property] Beit HaMachpela ,” said David Wilder, English spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron. “According to reports in Haaretz, the reason [Prime Minister Netanyau] gave [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak the green light to throw us out was for fear of being accused of being a ‘war criminal’ due to the Geneva/Hague convention accords. The Levy report negates this.”
“Look, Bibi owes us,” Wilder told the Jewish Press. “He abandoned most of Hebron to Arafat in 1997, and as such, was responsible for the shooting at us from the hills surrounding the Jewish community. It’s about time he repented. Beit HaMachpela would be a good start.”
While the small scale impacts would be significant, the impact on the country could be historic.
“I think that now the ball is in the prime minister’s hands,” Moshe Feiglin, Jewish activist, and political hopeful in the Manhigut Yehudit faction of Likud told the Jewish Press. “Is he going to go forward and make some action that will change the picture in the area or not? The report is very positive and something to be happy about. The question is how practical it is going to be.” Feiglin said he believes the proper outcome of the findings would be the annexation of all of Judea and Samaria “as we did in the Golan Heights and Jerusalem”.