Middle East Monitor / January 3, 2023
Israel’s far-right Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, is planning to apply the apartheid state’s sovereignty over illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported on Monday.
The head of the Religious Zionism party is said to have “a clear and organized plan to support and encourage settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as to apply Israel’s sovereignty over the settlements there.” All of Israel’s settlements for Jewish immigrants are illegal under international law.
Quds Press reported Israel’s Channel 14 TV as saying that Smotrich agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during coalition talks that he will be the only person responsible for the Israeli body which runs the occupied territories, the so-called Civil Administration. One of his goals, added the TV station, is to make life more difficult for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, especially those living in Area C, which is under the full administrative and security control of Israel, “to prevent them from taking over the land”.
Smotrich also apparently plans to move responsibility for illegal settlers in the occupied West Bank from the defence ministry to other ministries.
The new Israeli coalition government includes some of the extreme far-right parties. It was approved by the Knesset last week amid regional and international fears of increased settlement expansion.