U.S. opposes report recommending legalization of West Bank settlements
Obama administration rejects report claiming Israel isn't occupying the West Bank: ‘we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.’
The U.S. State Department criticized on Monday night the Edmond Levy committee report which recommended legalizing most outposts in the West Bank, based on the assertion that Israel is not an occupying power.
Patrick Ventrell, a U.S. State Department spokesman, spoke to reporters in Washington. "Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” siad Ventrell.
The Levy report recommends an upheaval of the judicial procedures in the West Bank, facilitating settlements and legalizing outposts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is yet to decide how to deal with the report.
A large portion of the Levy Committee’s report deals with a 2005 report written by attorney Talia Sasson, and commissioned by the Ariel Sharon government, which concluded that Israeli state bodies had been discreetly diverting millions of shekels to build illegal West Bank settlements and outposts.
Sasson said on Monday, “if the Levy Committee is pushing the government to determine that Israel's presence in the West Bank does not violate international law, Israel is in a dangerous position facing the rest of the world.”
Prof. David Kretzmer, an expert on international law, also commented on the findings of the Levy committee. "If Israel is not an occupying force, it must immediately relinquish ownership of all private lands seized over the years for military use, taken with authority as the occupying force in an occupied territory, and restore the lands to previous owners," said Kretzmer.