PM Defends Judge Levy's Appointment as Head of Committee That Legitimized West Bank Construction

The prime minister rejected Silvan Shalom’s remarks that Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Edmond Levy was chosen to head the committee on the legality of West Bank outposts because of his past in Netanyahu's Likud party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday to a recording in which Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom said that  Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Edmond Levy was chosen to head the committee that legitimized construction in the West Bank because of his past as a Likud member.

“The members of the committee did a faithful job in an unbiased and impeccable manner,” declared the prime minister. “These are professional people who were appointed in accordance with all the necessary authorizations.”

In a recording of a closed campaign meeting about 6 weeks ago, obtained by the Walla! News website, Shalom hinted that Justice Levy was selected to head the committee that eventually legalized settlement outposts in the West Bank was not by chance and derived from his past in the Likud movement.

“As for the Edmond Levy report, did the prime minister not know who Edmond Levy is before he appointed him?” asked Shalom. “I will clue you in: Edmond Levy was deputy mayor of Ramle on behalf of the Likud," he added. Shalom then said Levy was appointed as a Supreme Court judge as part of a political deal made with former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. "So when the prime minister appointed him, didn’t he understand who he was appointing?”

Later in his remarks, the vice prime minister described the other members of the committee, Alan Baker and retired Judge Tchia Shapira. “When he [Netanyahu] appointed Baker,” Shalom asked those present at the meeting, “do you think we didn’t know who Baker is? He was the legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry in my day, when I was at the Foreign Ministry."

Of Judge (ret.) Tchia Shapira Shalom said: “I have been told she is the daughter of Rabbi Shlomo Goren. Do we not know who Rabbi Goren’s daughter is? After all it’s clear that this trio wasn’t supposed to provide a Talia Sasson report,” said Shalom, referring to a 2005 report critical of illegal settlement construction.