Smotrich recorded telling supporters of secret government plan to change way Israel governs West Bank

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends a Knesset Finance Committee meeting in Jerusalem, on June 10, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attends a Knesset Finance Committee meeting in Jerusalem, on June 10, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has been recorded telling settler supporters that the government is engaged in a clandestine effort to change the way Israel governs the West Bank, The New York Times reports.

The paper says it received the recording from an event held earlier in the month in which Smotrich, who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry, told supporters that the goal was to prevent the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state.

“I’m telling you, it’s mega-dramatic,” says Smotrich according to a translation of his remarks from the NYT. “Such changes change a system’s DNA.”

Parts of the West Bank are under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, while the Israeli military has authority over the rest. Smotrich has long pushed for Israel to annex those areas.

Smotrich described at length how he planned to transfer authority from the military to civilians under his authority in the Defense Ministry, the report says.

“We created a separate civilian system,” Smotrich says, adding that to deflect international scrutiny, the government has allowed the Defense Ministry to remain involved in the process, according to the Times.

“It will be easier to swallow in the international and legal context,” Smotrich says. “So that they won’t say that we are doing annexation here.”

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