IDF efforts to buttress the West Bank security barrier. Photo: Security Fence and Border Administration, Israel’s Ministry of Defense
Netanyahu: ‘I support settlements but only when it’s done in a legal way and in coordination with [me] and the defense establishment, which did not happen’
A power crisis within Israel’s coalition government seemed to be emerging within the coalition on Friday after an illegal outpost in the West Bank was evacuated shortly after it was established overnight.
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant defied Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and ordered the Or Haim outpost’s evacuation, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir calling for it to cease.
“Defense Minister Gallant ordered the evacuation to go ahead despite the order and without consulting with Minister Smotrich and completely against the coalition agreements that form the basis for the existence of the government,” said a statement from Smotrich’s office issued as Israeli forces moved in to clear the site.
The outpost was built by five families on a strategic hilltop in the northern West Bank overnight Thursday to mark one month since the death of religious Zionist leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman. Its establishment was seen as an immediate challenge for Israel’s newly sworn-in coalition – which has committed to entrenching the Jewish state’s control over the Palestinian territory but has also faced international pressure to act with restraint.
Speaking to Israel’s army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Gallant said he gave his “full support to [Israel’s army].”
“Any action on the ground must be done lawfully, with full coordination, and subject to a situational security assessment,” he added.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to back his defense minister: “The government supports the settlements but only when it is done in a legal way and in coordination with the prime minister and the defense establishment, which did not happen,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.