Revoking the Civil Administration's powers… Smotrich's new plan policy for annexing the West Bank

Occupied Jerusalem Speech by Yehuda Fox, the military commander of the Israeli occupation forces in the central region and responsible for Israel's security and military measures Bank of the WestConflict between the military and the civil administration and the political aspects of the government represented by the extremist ministers Bezalej SmotrichThe deal gave West Bank military rulers civilian powers as part of a deal to form a far-right government Benjamin Netanyahu.

Fox, who announced he was resigning from the Israeli army after 37 years of service, criticized the “state crimes” being committed by settler gangs in the West Bank.

During the Gaza war, there was “official silence from the government on the escalation of the war” and even settlers received unprecedented support from Smotrich, the leader of the “religious Zionist” movement who was also in charge of civil affairs under military rule in the West Bank.

Fox retired from military life and publicly criticized settlers associated with the “religious Zionist” movement, while Smotrich, who was also deputy defense minister, continued his efforts to strip civilian rights as part of a plan he announced under the name of “the resolution” to bring the West Bank under Israeli sovereignty.

Newspaper reports "Novaya Gazeta" Reveals Smotrich's plans for civilian control and his clashes with the military over this (especially as filmed by journalists)
Novaya Gazeta reported Smotrich's plan to take control of civil administration (Al Jazeera)

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As Smotrich seeks to increase his control and strengthen his power, the conflict he is unleashing is revealed through hidden disputes within the civil administration, which were exposed by Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper that sees them as a reflection of the progress of the minister's plans.

The newspaper recalled scenes of an argument between Smotrich and the recently appointed head of the Civil Administration, Lt. Col. Hisham Ibrahim, who fell out with the minister after settlers appointed Hillel Ross as deputy to the Civil Administration, the first time a civilian has held the post since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

The newspaper revealed that divisions within the Civil Administration had intensified after a recording of the head of the Civil Administration was leaked. With Smotrich's representatives in office, the head of the Civil Administration continued to hold talks with military officials to determine the course of action for the Civil Administration under his leadership.

The conversations, captured on tape, show Smotrich seeking to remove the Civilian Administration from power and empty it of its contents in preparation for its transfer to new officials he represents.

“The Civil Administration will continue to exist, without which neither the Palestinian people nor the settlers can live,” Colonel Ibrahim said in the recording. He believes that it is the only institution that can realize settlements and serve the Palestinians and will not be deprived of its powers.

New Appointments

Elisha Ben Kimon, a West Bank correspondent for the Yemeni newspaper, said the new head of the Civil Administration was aware of the storm, mainly because the Civil Administration appointed a civilian representative, an appointment agreed upon in the government coalition agreement between Religious Zionism and the Likud party.

Ben Kimon explained that people close to “Religious Zionism” confirmed that Ross, who represented Smotrich in the Civil Administration, was directly under the jurisdiction of the “Directorate for Organization, Construction and Settlement Whitewashing” established by the minister and enjoyed the support of the political echelons of the Netanyahu government.

He noted that the appointment is in line with Smotrich's plan to resolve the conflict and bring the entire West Bank under Israeli sovereignty and control, a plan expressed by the leaders of “religious Zionism.” The Civil Administration is an employee of the Ministry of Defense and is not affiliated with the army command. It has all the powers related to the management of daily life and life affairs in the West Bank.

Smotrich’s new appointment of “religious Zionists” in the civil administration fits in with Smotrich’s plan to exert civilian control over the West Bank, rather than military control by the Israeli army, by changing reality and imposing new facts on the ground without issuing a formal annexation, said Ronan Bergman, an investigative journalist and expert on military and intelligence affairs.

Bergman explained that the changes implemented by Smotrich were “completely inconsistent with the position of the Internal Security Service.”Shin Bet”, and the Israeli Army’s Central Command explained that every incident in the West Bank has security consequences that could undermine stability.

He noted that at this stage the Civil Administration is being handled for all intents and purposes from a political perspective and that only time will tell how much of the Civil Administration’s remaining additional powers will be transferred to Smotrich’s office, which is pushing for more settlement farms and illegal settlements on private Palestinian land, which could lead to an escalation of the security situation in the region.

Security Alarm

The same assessment was shared by Yoav Zeitoun, a military correspondent for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, who explained that senior officers of the Israeli army believe that the transfer of power over the civil administration to Smotrich or his representatives would be tantamount to a real annexation of the West Bank by Israel, with full control.

The military journalist explained that the secret document was drafted by Fox two months before he announced his resignation and was addressed to senior Israeli military officials, warning against stripping civilian authorities of their power.

He noted that the “religious Zionist” leader is making significant changes on the ground, seizing broad powers from the civilian administration, pushing the Palestinian Authority to the brink of collapse and encouraging Palestinians to emigrate to work abroad, measures that foreshadow an unprecedented security escalation in the West Bank.

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