Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich stated in an interview with Israel National News - Arutz Sheva that a significant part of the recent tensions between the Biden Administration and the Israeli government is due to his policies in Judea and Samaria.
"Our mission first and foremost is to provide security to the citizens of Israel in the settlements and all over the country. When we talk about the fight against terrorism there are two legs: the first is the development of the settlements and strengthening our grip on the territories of the Land of Israel. After all, terrorism is designed to weaken our grip - and our true answer that will eradicate it and make terrorism futile - will be further construction. When you look at Judea and Samaria, this government is building, regulating, developing, both in construction and in infrastructure on an unprecedented scale," said Smotrich.
He emphasized that "quite a lot of the tensions that exist between the American administration and the Israeli government - and these are tensions between friends and partners and we manage these disputes with respect - stem from the policy that I am leading as a minister in the Ministry of Defense in the settlements with the full backing of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense."
Smotrich stated that the "second leg" in the mission to provide security to the citizens of Israel is the fight against terrorism. "This government is doing more - taking the initiative, going on offense, taking targeted countermeasures. The IDF's recent activity in Jenin was also good and important - and it is still not enough. For 30 years, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, we have been on a certain course and we need to completely move the ship. This is true in the government, it is true in the military system and in the central command. It's a long process and I'm not satisfied with what's happening."
"I take responsibility for this because I am part of the government - and the way to influence it is less with external attacks and criticism but more in the closed rooms, with the defense minister, with the prime minister, and in the cabinet discussions. I personally feel that things are progressing, we must do more, but we're going in the right direction," he said.
Addressing the cabinet's decision to work to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, Smotrich said: "There was a cabinet discussion that touched on the situation in the Palestinian Authority and why the Israeli interest at this given point in time [is to support. As you know, I do not refer to closed discussions in the cabinet in the media - because that would be a mistake."
However, he points out that "there can be no debate about the fact that the Palestinian Authority is a body that supports terrorism, pays salaries to the families of terrorists, and actively encourages terrorism. The PA works against Israel in international institutions, in violation of the law and the agreements signed with the State of Israel. In the face of this Israel must take an active policy."
"In the Ministry of Defense, I manage a very serious staff which works to change the enforcement policy in Judea and Samaria. We emphasize dealing with the PA's efforts with international backing to take control of territories, to protect the vital interests of the State of Israel in the region. It is very important that the IDF maintains unequivocal freedom of action in Judea and Samaria to thwart terrorism. This freedom of action exists and in everything related to the fight against terrorism, we can and should do much more," concluded Smotrich.