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Gov’t approves new settlement committee (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 06/18/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=274202 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The government on Sunday voted to remove the issue of West Bank settlements from its purview and instead handed the matter over to an 11-member ministerial committee, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that the creation of the committee was a significant policy change.

It marks the first time in 16 years that the government has amended a 1996 decision, Decision 150, taken during Binyamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister. Decision 150 determined that the creation of new West Bank settlements must have the approval of the full government.

Now that power, as well as the ability to make decisions with regard to West Bank settlements on matters of policy and construction, has been moved to the ministerial committee.

The text of the decision was careful to clarify that the amendment left intact the portion of Decision 150 that states the defense minister must also approve land allocation and planning for West Bank settlements.

Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon and Minister Michael Eitan opposed the decision.

Vice Premier and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Energy and Water Resources Minister Uzi Landau, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov abstained.

Netanyahu will head the committee. Other members will include, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Vice Premiers Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Ya’alon, Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, Sa’ar, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.

Peace Now opposed the committee’s creation. The group´s executive director, Ya’ariv Oppenheimer, warned that the committee would authorize illegal settler building and empower settlers at Barak’s expense.

The committee is tasked with issues regarding policy, construction authorizations and demolitions, including the creation of new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

It would have the ability to formulate governmental policy with respect to unauthorized construction, both on state land and on private Palestinian property.

It would also formulate the principles and policy by which the state would respond to petitions to the High Court of Justice on land issues in the West Bank.

Committee decision would carry the weight of a governmental vote. Ministers would not be able to appeal them. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/18/12)

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