Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichIsrael National News

Defense Minister Yoav Galant is stopping extensive plans in Judea and Samaria, which are only waiting for his approval after being approved by the highest echelons in the government.

According to Israel Hayom, the Settlement Division, which Bezalel Smotrich leads due to his tenure as a minister in the Defense Ministry, there has long been pressure to promote these plans, including declaring thousands of square metres in the Jordan Valley as state land and the restitution of Jewish buildings that were confiscated in 1929 in Hebron. Gallant has so far not advanced the plans.

Recently, about 80,000 square metres in the Jordan Valley were declared as state land, and the next step was supposed to include a declaration of an additional 120,000 square metres in the valley. The process has been prepared in full, and lacks only Gallant's signature.

Another move that was supposed to have already occurred and was blocked by Minister Gallant concerns buildings in Hebron that were owned by Jews and abandoned after the 1929 massacre, at which point Arabs from the city took over them. Recently, Smotrich's staff, backed by political authorities, sought to begin a precedent-setting process of evicting the Arabs in question and returning the homes to Jewish ownership. This too is now being blocked by the Defense Minister, who has the authority to approve such movements in Hebron.

Minister Smotrich sent a letter on the matter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating he will not agree "to stop actions that are within my authority to promote settlement in Judea and Samaria, some of which are being delayed by the Defense Minister, from non-substantive considerations that harm the settlement."

According to him, Minister Gallant "stopped the promotion of legal actions that would enable the expansion of the Jewish settlement in Hebron on Jewish properties," and also "is delaying declarations of state lands in the Jordan Valley, which I instructed, which would enable the expansion of the Jewish settlement in the area."

Smotrich demanded an immediate discussion chaired by the PM, and concluded: "It is very sad that the Prime Minister and Defense Minister need to deal with such issues during a time of war."

In response, Gallant's staff commented: "The issues are being examined by the security system, and will be approved accordingly based on our operational assessment."