As part of deals being cut so Benjamin Netanyahu can become the next prime minister of Israel, he has created a new position within the Defense Ministry that will have oversight of the “Jewish settlements and open lands”—the West Bank or biblical Judea and Samaria. And Netanyahu plans to give the job to Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich.
The ministerial position will have authority over the military units responsible for implementing Israeli government policies in the West Bank. Prior to this new arrangement, the leaders of COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) were appointed in coordination with the Israeli Defense Forces and the Defense Minister. Now it will be “in coordination and agreement” with the prime minister.
Benny Gantz, the current Defense Minister, said the arrangement would turn Israel’s next Defense Minister into “a second-class defense minister, a “contractor for the dismantling of the security apparatus and the IDF.”
Netanyahu has also promised the leader of the Jewish Power party (“Otzma Yehudit”) control of the Israel Border Police—a move that Gantz warns will give Itamar Ben Gvir (the party head) his own “private army” to carry out his vision of a strictly Jewish state in Judea and Samaria, a vision that would result in “security chaos.” Ben Gvir has advocated the use of lethal force against Palestinians and wants to see Arab Israelis deported if they are believed to be disloyal to the Jewish state.
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