Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Aviv Kohavi vowed to stop far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich from being able to nominate military generals for two key positions, according to Monday reports.

Smotrich has been seeking more influence over West Bank policy in coalition negotiations with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and has reportedly secured the right to nominate candidates for positions overseeing much of the territory.

“I won’t allow any interference in the appointment of IDF generals. There is no possibility of this happening,” Kohavi was quoted as saying by Channel 13 news during closed conversations.

The Haaretz daily reported similar comments from Kohavi and said that incoming IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi agrees with him. Halevi is due to take over as military chief in January.

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that the incoming coalition parties have agreed to change the process for choosing the heads of the Civil Administration and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, also known as COGAT, likely bolstering a bid by pro-settlement hardliners to expand Israel’s presence in the territories while clamping down on Palestinians.

Religious Zionism and Smotrich have pushed for a heavier hand in controlling Israeli policies in the West Bank, raising fears that they will use the newfound authority to rapidly expand Israeli construction and the establishment of new settlements while upping enforcement against illegal Palestinian construction in parts of the West Bank under Israeli civil control.

Under the already-announced terms of a coalition deal between Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Smotrich, a junior minister embedded in the Defense Ministry by Religious Zionism will exercise control over COGAT and the Civil Administration, agencies under the ministry and the IDF which serve as the military liaison to the Palestinians and direct civilian life in the roughly 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel has full civil and military authority.

According to the report, that authority may also extend to appointing who leads the agencies, a task that currently falls to the head of the IDF, with the approval of the defense minister the only form of political intervention.

The reform could lead to the politicization of a highly sensitive role, potentially increasing tensions with Palestinians, the international community and the army itself, which takes pains to distance itself from political affairs.

The Channel 13 report quoted a senior defense official warning that such a move “will break the chain of command and create anarchy.”

“It can’t be that a minister who is not defense minister appoints the head of the Civil Administration,” the official added.

The IDF spokesperson department denied leaking the comments.

The network also said that Netanyahu spoke with Likud MK Yoav Gallant, a retired general who is expected to be the next defense minister, about the changes at the Defense Ministry. Gallant gave “the green light” to let Smotrich select the commanders of COGAT and the Civil Administration, the report said.

Earlier Monday, outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that his successor will have to actively guard against military powers being peeled off and transferred to Smotrich and extremist Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir, who is due to head a new National Security Ministry that will be given authority over Border Police in the West Bank.

Smotrich had initially sought the defense minister role for himself, but was rebuffed by Netanyahu due to his extreme positions and lack of security experience and amid reported concern from the Biden Administration.

He later pushed to have the Civil Administration transferred to the Finance Ministry, which he is set to take over, but sparked pushback from critics who said moving authority from the military to a civilian department would amount to de facto annexation of the West Bank.

The deal to keep the body under the Defense Ministry, but allow the junior minister to control COGAT and settlement policy, ostensibly represents a compromise between the sides.

I joined The Times of Israel after many years covering US and Israeli politics for Hebrew news outlets.

I believe responsible coverage of Israeli politicians means presenting a 360 degree view of their words and deeds – not only conveying what occurs, but also what that means in the broader context of Israeli society and the region.

That’s hard to do because you can rarely take politicians at face value – you must go the extra mile to present full context and try to overcome your own biases.

I’m proud of our work that tells the story of Israeli politics straight and comprehensively. I believe Israel is stronger and more democratic when professional journalists do that tough job well.

Your support for our work by joining The Times of Israel Community helps ensure we can continue to do so.

Thank you,
Tal Schneider, Political Correspondent

We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel

QOSHE - IDF chief vows to stop Smotrich interference in appointing army generals — report - Toi Staff
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

IDF chief vows to stop Smotrich interference in appointing army generals — report

23 13 14
06.12.2022

Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Aviv Kohavi vowed to stop far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich from being able to nominate military generals for two key positions, according to Monday reports.

Smotrich has been seeking more influence over West Bank policy in coalition negotiations with Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, and has reportedly secured the right to nominate candidates for positions overseeing much of the territory.

“I won’t allow any interference in the appointment of IDF generals. There is no possibility of this happening,” Kohavi was quoted as saying by Channel 13 news during closed conversations.

The Haaretz daily reported similar comments from Kohavi and said that incoming IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi agrees with him. Halevi is due to take over as military chief in January.

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that the incoming coalition parties have agreed to change the process for choosing the heads of the Civil Administration and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, also known as COGAT, likely bolstering a bid by pro-settlement hardliners to expand Israel’s presence in the territories while clamping down on Palestinians.

Religious Zionism and Smotrich have pushed for a heavier hand in controlling Israeli policies in the West Bank, raising fears that they will use the newfound authority to rapidly expand Israeli construction and the establishment of new settlements while upping........

© The Times of Israel


Get it on Google Play