Incoming Israel PM Netanyahu to give far-right politician Smotrich power over West Bank settlements
Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly handed considerable power to far-right politician Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party to approve the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
As part of a deal to form a governing coalition, Netanyahu will only be involved in the initial stage of the planning process when the government decides the size and location of the illegal settlements, the Times of Israel reported Friday, citing Israeli public broadcaster Kan.
At the moment, the Prime Minister’s signature is required for every stage of the process.
Meet the most right wing govt in Israel’s history:— Tameem | تميم (@TameeOliveFern) December 22, 2022
💩Itamar Ben-Gvir, terrorism convict, security minister.
💩Avi Maoz, anti-LGBTQ, in control of parts of the country's national education system
💩Bezalel Smotrich, “proud homophobe”, West Bank settlements minister https://t.co/mXYYDxEdVm
Under the deal, Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to hand over the authority of two key bodies that administer Israel’s control over the West Bank - the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories and the Civil Administration.
Smotrich, who is 42, was born in a Jewish settlement in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and grew up in Bet El near Ramallah.
In 2006, he founded the pro-settler Regavim organisation, a notorious body among Palestinians that tracks construction in Area C of the occupied West Bank.
Smotrich has long advocated for expanding settlements and annexing large parts of the occupied West Bank, officially turning large parts of Palestinian land into Israeli territory.
He is likely to hold a senior cabinet position in the new government, which will reportedly be announced next week or early in the new year.
Israel legally annexed and occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the Six-Day War in 1967. It has since approved and built dozens of settlements for hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers on stolen Palestinian land, a move illegal under international law.