Netanyahu: AG's Objections Hold Up Approval of Report on West Bank Outposts

In weekly meeting with Likud ministers, PM says awaiting Weinstein's reservations on the Levy report before bringing it before the government; sources: Meeting to be held in one week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the possibility that the cabinet will approve parts of a report on the legal status on West Bank settlements on Sunday, saying that the document did not yet receive the approval of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

On Wednesday, Israel Radio reported that the cabinet was set to adopt parts of a report by a panel headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, submitted in June, which advised legalizing West Bank outposts and rejected the claim that Israel's presence in the territories is that of an occupying force.

Referring to the issue during the Likud ministers' weekly meeting in Jerusalem, the premier said on Sunday:"I regret to say that at this point the AG isn't backing the report, but I hope we will find a solution for that."

During the meeting, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz asked Netanyahu whether a date had been set for a cabinet session on the so-called Levy report, with the PM answering that he was holding talks with Weinstein on the subject and that a date for a cabinet meeting would be set after the AG commented on the proposal.  

Katz, however, insisted on bringing the report before the government, saying that a date for a session should be set, with a meeting to discuss Weinstein's comments to come later.

Katz aides indicated that, immediately following the exchange, Netanyahu asked Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman to bring the Levy report before the government in the next meeting, in one week.

Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat rejected Weinstein's reservations concerning the adoption of the report over the upcoming elections, saying: "This isn't an incumbent government, not a transitional one, and the AG has no legal pretext to prevent the approval of these recommendations."

In June, the Levy Committee recommended a fundamental change in the legal regime in the West Bank, including the annulment of a long list of laws, High Court of Justice rulings and procedures in order to permit Jews to settle in all of Judea and Samaria.  

In recent weeks, the premier has been the subject of intense pressure from Likud ministers, such as  Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, and Katz himself, to approve the report.

Netanyahu was able to fend off these attempts, which increased as it became clear that the premier intended to move up the elections. Many of the Likud's ministers, aiming to placate settler and far-right representatives in Likud, published a press release in recent days, in which they urged Netanyahu to accept the report and make it into a cabinet decision.

Benjamin Netanyahu attending the weekly cabinet meeting
Former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy and Benjamin Netanyahu