Likud casts as ‘fake’ reports it objects to Smotrich controlling Civil Administration

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

The Likud party indicates that reported opposition to a far-right leader’s demand to control the Israeli governing body in the West Bank is “fake.”

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich has reportedly accepted that Likud will not hand him the Defense Ministry, but has pushed to excise the sensitive Civil Administration from the ministry’s purview and transfer it to his control.

“There is no disagreement with Smotrich regarding the transfer of the powers of the Civil Administration powers,” says a statement attributed to a “Likud source,” without specifying whether Smotrich will get the Civil Administration or has backed down from the request.

Smotrich has long pushed for power over the Civil Administration, and at the beginning of 2021 said he would push to close the military liaison to the Palestinians. If he were to control the civilian administrator in the West Bank, Smotrich would be able to direct resources toward enforcing against illegal Palestinian building in Israeli-controlled Area C, where all Israeli settlements are located.

Likud has been hesitant to put the body under Smotrich’s control, especially as it would likely cause tension with the United States.

Divisions over the Civil Administration are the latest in a string of blow-ups between Likud and its partners to the right, as it tries to form Israel’s 37th government.

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