Opinion: Smotrich and Ben-Gvir’s policies will likely throw legitimacy of Israel’s rule in the West Bank into further dispute, threatening international cooperation, which is a corner stone of our security

The decision to transfer the civil administration of the West Bank, the administrator of the territories (COGAT) and the Border Police units, from the authority of the defense establishment to the far-right political partners in the new government, will be a mistake that will have long-term repercussions.

COGAT and the civil administration contribute to the fight against terror, because they are charged with the complicated relationship with Palestinian and Jewish residents, as well as cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, which oversees matters such as health care, education and more.

יושבים בית קפה ברמאללה צופים בנאום של אבו מאזן
Palestinians watch PA’s Abbas speech at Ramallah coffee shop (Photo: Reuters)


Their primary mission, which has thus far been successful, is to ensure that the PA and the Palestinian civilian population, are not put in direct confrontation with Israeli security forces, allowing those to concentrate on identifying and countering terror activities.

In the international arena, a one-sided occupation of the West Bank is not acceptable to say the least, first and foremost in the eyes of Israel’s closest ally – the U.S.

Israel’s blooming relations with parts of the Arab World, and the legal position of the international community, that considers the West Bank under a temporary military occupation, will be compromised.

פעילות כוחות צה"ל ג'נין
IDF soldier on counter terrorism operation in Jenin (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)


The designated ministers in the incoming Netanyahu coalition, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, have been dedicating their efforts towards annexation of the West Bank, for religious reasons.

Most of their lives, the two gentlemen had been in conflict, with Israeli security services and law enforcement and they will now, be overseers of both.

As ministers, they will have control of one of the most powerful forces in the region – the Border Police, which when deployed to the West Bank, answers to the military despite being a unit within the police.

Under Smotrich, the road to full annexation will be clear.

The two incoming ministers, will serve the interests of the Jewish settlers, including annexation of 60% of the territory defined as area C, legalize the illegal activities of settlers there, and impose a heavy-handed policy towards the Palestinian population.

בצלאל סמוטריץ' ואיתמר בן גביר
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotirich (Photo: Yair Sagi)


Such a reality will bring about a slow demise of the PA, because it is unlikely to agree to continue its counter terror activity, in the service of people promoting annexation, as opposed to their work with security services, whom they consider a legitimate partner in such matters.

Israel will be drawn further into the de-facto annexation, and the estimated cost of the PA’s demise, would be in the billions while European financial support of West Bank projects, would also likely drop.

From there, the distance to a wider conflict will be short, requiring the IDF to deal with the complex reality on the ground, while it is needed in other arenas such as the threat from Iran.

While on the world stage, the UN General Assembly is due to vote on a resolution that will likely throw the legitimacy of Israel’s rule over the West Bank into further question. Such legitimacy is necessary for continued international cooperation, which is the corner stone of our security.

גלעד ארדן במועצת הביטחון של האו"ם
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan at the General Assembly (Photo: UN)


In Washington, there is already growing impatience with the emerging government, and based on past experiences, this could have negative effects on the special relations we now share with the U.S.

As reported by Ynetnews