IDF chief at Knesset, reportedly to warn against transfer of powers to Smotrich

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset on February 20, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset on February 20, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi is at the Knesset with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to warn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against transferring some of latter’s powers to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism, is also a minister in the Defense Ministry. As part of Religious Zionism’s coalition deal with Likud, is slated to be given authority over the military-run bodies handling civil affairs in the West Bank and coordination with the Palestinians, which are currently under Gallant’s purview.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid slams Smotrich for not attending the meeting with Halevi and Netanyahu, charging that Israel is “being held capture by fanatical extremists.”

Explaining his absence, Smotrich says he doesn’t want to involve the IDF with politics and that the transfer of powers will be settled this evening.

“Right now, the chief of staff is bringing his professional view before the prime minister,” he says in a statement. “Immediately afterwards, a political meeting will be held at which the matter will be decided.”

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