Gantz accuses Smotrich, Ben Gvir of trying to set up private armies in West Bank

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz charges Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich with trying to create “private armies” in the West Bank.

“We can’t allow the transformation of units into private armies of one minister or another. It is forbidden to privatize the command and control of the IDF,” says Gantz at the outset of his National Unity party’s faction meeting.

Both Ben Gvir, who is likely to become police minister, and Smotrich, who is set to receive the finance portfolio, are pushing for greater powers.

On Friday, Gantz wrote a Facebook post outlining ways in which he believes Ben Gvir’s appointment as public security minister with expanded authority and Smotrich’s demand to peel off the West Bank’s civil authority and transfer it to his control can harm national security.

“National security is not the name of a government ministry. This is the sum total of actions that enable the stability of the government,” Gantz says.

On Sunday, Ben Gvir said he plans to relax open-fire rules to allow security forces to shoot anyone holding a stone or firebomb, rather than waiting until the object is thrown.

“I do not yet know who will be the next defense minister, but I call on him to stand firm against any attempt to play with the use of force, against any idea that may lead to damaging the function of the security [forces,]” Gantz says.

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