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American Jewish leaders express concern over Levy report

JTA

July 15, 2012 | 10:46 am

A letter to Benjamin Netanyahu signed by at least 40 American Jewish leaders expresses concern about the findings of a government committee which said that West Bank settlements are legal.

The letter, initiated and organized by the Israel Policy Forum, was delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.

“As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril,” the letter read.

Signatories to the letter include philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Lester Crown; Marvin Lender Former National Chairman of UJA; Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University; Bernard Nussbaum, former White House Counsel; Richard Pearlstone, former chairman of the Jewish Agency; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.


The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, said in its 89-page report released last week that “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.

The report recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in the West Bank in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.

The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

“Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state,” the letter concluded.

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