Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu 'backs Jewish settlers'


Israeli settlers in the West Bank dismissed reports yesterday that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was planning to bury a controversial report urging the legalisation of unauthorised outposts in the territory seized from Jordan in 1967.

The report was not discussed at a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs on Tuesday, raising suggestions in the Haaretz daily that the Prime Minister "has decided to bury the Levy report".

A committee chaired by Edmond Levy, a retired Supreme Court judge, concluded earlier this year that Israel's presence in the West Bank was not "occupation" in the accepted legal sense and that the relevant provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding transfer of populations did not apply to the 350,000 settlers there. The report, warmly welcomed by Mr Netanyahu, was harshly criticised by legal experts and others in Israel and abroad, including the Obama administration.

David Ha'ivri, a settler spokesman, said he was unaware of any indications that Mr Netanyahu was trying to distance himself from the report.