Smotrich, Ben-Gvir Demand Netanyahu More Power over Occupied West Bank

Itamar Ben-Gvir (L), Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Bezalel Smotrich. (Image. The Palestine Chronicle)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately hand over authority over the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported on Friday.

According to Israeli media, this issue has caused tension within the government coalition, as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant until now has refused to transfer powers that could have implications on security issues.

Smotrich – head of the Religious Zionist Party – and Ben-Gvir – head of Otzma Yehudit – called for Netanyahu to respect the coalition agreements, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Tensions reportedly escalated with the demolition of an olive grove farmed by illegal settlers north of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday.

“The uprooting of the grove in the Shiloh Valley [north of Ramallah] is an injustice that cries to the heavens and could and should have been prevented,” Smotrich tweeted.

“We demanded and received in the coalition agreements the responsibility over the Civil Administration and the civil life in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) precisely in order to end this discriminatory maltreatment of settlers.”

Smotrich, according to The Jerusalem Post, stressed: “If (Yoav) Gallant has a problem with that [handing over power to him], he is welcome to quit. I am convinced many in Likud would be happy to take his place in the Defense Ministry.”

(PC, MEMO)

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