Settlements could endanger Israel’s Jewish majority: Israeli president

Settlements could endanger Israel’s Jewish majority: Israeli president
# 11 July 2012 03:47 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday said he believes that legalizing all settlements in the West Bank would threaten Israel’s Jewish majority, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Peres’ comments came on the heels of a recent report recommending the government to legalize all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"Israeli settlements in territories densely populated by an Arab population could bring about a threatening demographic change, that is, it could endanger the Jewish majority in Israel," Peres said during a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery.

Although Peres did not directly refer to the report, it was clear that he was talking about the conclusions reached by a committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The committee’s suggestions were made public on Monday, and the document states that settlements in the West Bank are not illegal under international law and recommended to sanction all settlements and outposts.

The committee, headed by Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Edmond Levy, recommended easing regulations on West Bank settlements and regulating planning and zoning in the area in accordance with population growth.

"Israel does not meet the criteria of ’military occupation’ as defined under international law," its report read.

The Levy committee’s conclusions clash with the recommendations of another 2005 report on the same matter, which recommended illegalizing and demolishing 120 settlements.

The 2005 document was written by attorney Talia Sasson at the behest of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"How can this report, which is supposed to reflect the current situation, fail to represent the situation that has been upheld by the Supreme Court for the past 45 years?" Sasson told Ynet News site.

Netanyahu said Monday that he will study the Levy committee report’s conclusions with the Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs and reach a decision on the matter.

The U.S. State Department criticized Monday night the Levy committee report.

Patrick Ventrell, a U.S. State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington that "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. "