Peres: Settlement building threatens Jewish state (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF 07/11/12)
JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-Top
President Shimon Peres spoke out Tuesday against West Bank
settlements, stating that they jeopardize the state’s Jewish identity.
“Israeli settlements in territories densely populated with Arabs,
which followed their attack on us, can lead to a threatening
demographic change. It places a Jewish majority in the State of
Israel at risk,” Peres said.
“Without a Jewish majority it is doubtful if the state will remain
Jewish,” he said at a ceremony at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in
memory of the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl.
Peres spoke just one day after the publication of a government-
initiated report on West Bank outposts, which gave a boost to the
settlement enterprise by stating that Israel did not occupy the West
Bank and that it had a right under international law to build
The report also called on the government to transform unauthorized
outposts into legal settlements.
Danny Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea,
Samaria and the Gaza Strip, immediately attacked Peres’s statement.
“The only danger to the State of Israel as a Jewish nation is the
failure to believe in our historical right to our land,” he said.
But Israel’s rights to the West Bank have received little support
from the international community, which views its settlements as
illegal and a stumbling block to the peace process.
The US on Monday reiterated its opposition to Israeli settlement
activity and said it did not accept the conclusions of the new report.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement
activity and we oppose any effort to legalize outposts,” US State
Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters in Washington.
The Palestinian Authority, which on Monday rejected the outpost
report, has insisted that it won’t hold direct negotiations with
Israel until it halts settlement activity and Jewish building in east
Israel has insisted that it has a right to build both in West Bank
settlements and in east Jerusalem.
But until this year it has held to international pledges not to
create new settlements. In April it transformed three outposts –
Bruhin, Rehalim and Sansana – into settlements. At the time it argued
that it was not creating new settlements but rather executing
decisions of past governments.
The outpost report did not overly examine Israel’s diplomatic
pledges, but rather examined the legal arguments internationally and
domestically with respect to settlement activity.
It concluded that since Israel’s activity in the West Bank did not
meet the international legal standards of occupation, there was no
legal barrier to its settlement activity.
Its conclusions flew in the face of attorney Talia Sasson’s 2005
report commissioned by former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Sasson
compiled a list of 105 unauthorized outposts built between 1991 and
2005, arguing they had been illegally constructed and should be taken
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday praised the report penned
by former Supreme Court justice Edmond Levy, former Foreign Ministry
legal adviser Alan Baker and former deputy president of the Tel Aviv
District Court Tehiya Shapira. It has already been dubbed the “Levy
Netanyahu added that the Ministerial Committee on Settlements would
debate and decide on the matter. The committee received a copy of the
report on Sunday and has the full authority to approve its
The report was publicized on the eve of US Deputy Secretary of State
William Burns’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Burns is part of a large US delegation of security and regional
experts who are holding a strategic dialogue with Israel this week in
the Foreign Ministry. Among the delegation’s members are experts on
Syria and Iran.
Burns is expected to meet with Netanyahu and PA Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad, as part of an ongoing effort to rekindle the frozen peace
talks. His trip will be followed by a visit from US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton next week. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY