According to a report in Haaretz this morning, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to bury the Levy Report, which recommended legalising the majority of unauthorised settlement outposts in the West Bank.
Netanyahu is concerned that an Israeli official declaration that West Bank settlements do not violate the fourth Geneva Accord would lead to a diplomatic crisis with Israel’s allies, the Haaretz report said.
Yesterday, Netanyahu convened the Ministerial Committee for Settlement Affairs to discuss various issues related to unauthorised settlement outposts. During the meeting ministers Daniel Hershkowitz and Gilad Erdan demanded a discussion of the Levy Report, but according to media reports, Netanyahu rejected this demand.
The ministerial committee also discussed the Migron outpost. The state must soon submit its response to a High Court of Justice petition by 17 families from the outpost who are seeking permission to remain in parts of the outpost that they claim were purchased from its Palestinian owners. Police are still investigating the legality of the purchase, but the ministers were briefed on the legal situation to date.
In other settlement related news, ignoring a formal Israeli protest, the European Union on Tuesday classified parts of the municipality of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut as a settlement, thus manufactured goods from the city will not be allowed duty-free entrance into the EU zone.
Since 2005, Israeli exporters to EU countries have had to clearly indicate the origins of goods. Under the EU-Israel free trade agreement, Israeli products are allowed duty-free entry into the EU, but not goods made in the settlements. EU products coming into Israel also enjoy a duty-free status.
“For anyone who deals in reality, there is not the slightest doubt that the Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut localities are an integral part of Israel, and their future is not in question,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement in response. “The EU ignores reality when it extends the domain of conflict to places and issues that do not belong there,” the statement continued.
One Israeli official said the EU had succeeded in bringing into conflict an area that even the Palestinians never discuss: the parts of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut that lie beyond the Green Line in an area known as “no-man’s land.”
No-man’s land is a narrow strip of land between Israel and the West Bank, which status was never fully clarified in the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan.