Photo Credit: Courtesy
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while Defense Minister Yoav Gallant looks on, Feb. 23, 2023.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wants to appoint his man to the post of Deputy Head of the Civil Administration, with powers over the enforcement of illegal construction in Jewish settlements and outposts in Judea and Samaria, Haaretz reported Sunday night. As a result, the commanders of the regional divisions in Judea and Samaria will have to justify their decisions on the demolition of “illegal” construction to Smotrich’s Deputy Head, whereas today, decisions on these demolitions are in the hands of the Commander of the Central Command (these days it is General Yehuda Fox).

Outraged security apparatus officials told Haaretz that “Smotrich’s plan will lead to a situation where senior officers in the IDF will be subordinate to civilian officials appointed for political reasons.”


Imagine that, elected officials telling IDF generals what to do. What kind of democracy is this? Even worse, A source in the security establishment warned that the change Smotrich is promoting will give the heads of regional councils in Judea and Samaria significant leverage over the brigade commanders, and as a result, those commanders will not rush to order the demolition of settlement construction.

“It will be difficult for the brigade commander to sign an order to dismantle or demolish illegal construction in the outposts because the residents and the heads of the settlers know how to put pressure on that officer,” said the same source. “The friction and work of the regional division with the settlements and residents is daily and very intimate. They depend on each other, unlike a commanding general who is not obligated to them and whose promotion is not necessarily influenced by the positions of the settlers in the West Bank.”

Yes, Luke Skywalker, we much prefer our orders to come down from Darth Vader…

It appears that the first civilian deputy head in the history of the Civil Administration in the territories will be Hillel Roth, a resident of Revava in Samaria, until recently the deputy CEO of Bnei Akiva. Roth will be subordinate to the head of the settlement administration, Yehuda Eliyahu, who is close to Smotrich.

The finance minister who also serves as an adjunct minister in the defense ministry wants the systemic change and the appointment to be done by an executive order rather than legislation, which could be problematic under the gaze of the State Dept. in Washington and the ICC in the Hague. After all, placing the control over Jewish settlement construction in Judea and Samaria in the hands of the civilian government is starting to look like annexation, which, you know, God forbid, Israel has no such plans.

The former IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and his successor Herzi Halevi are both staunchly opposed to Smotrich’s plan, which probably means it’s a good one. As Smotrich’s office put it on Sunday:

“We couldn’t have received a better proof of our opposition to the round of appointments in the IDF by the General Staff that failed on October 7 than the fact that the defense minister and the chief of staff also understand that they have no serious argument on the merits of the matter and are going into the realms of unfounded, made-up accusations. Those who failed will not shape the perception of security, the building of power, and the next high command of the IDF. Period.”

Under these circumstances, with the settlement enterprise gaining a fighting chance against the hostile IDF brass, it is no wonder that Monday’s Haaretz editorial was a heartfelt prayer for the Biden administration to move in and punish the bad Jews who dream of living on the Biblical lands of their forefathers.

As Haaretz (a.k.a. al-Ard) put it: “Unfortunately, the settlement enterprise, its purpose, and its criminal methods of operation are not of interest to the Israelis. It seems that in other countries attention is being directed to the matter more and more. The administration’s sanctions are aimed at exactly that: to try to influence the flow of money and economic activity that allow the outposts to flourish. This is the only way to save Israel from itself.”

Isaiah 49:17 has two meanings: 1. Those who ravaged and ruined come from within you; and, 2. Those who ravaged and ruined you shall leave you. The prophet was likely talking about the Haaretz editorial staff, and suggesting they all might be happier in Berlin.


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