Opposition to Test Rightwing MKs Anger Over Chevron Evictions

YERUSHALAYIM -
Knesset (Flash 90)
The Knesset. (Flash90)

In a first test of the mettle of rightwing MKs who threatened to vote against the coalition after IDF troops evicted dozens of Israelis who took up residence in two buildings in Chevron, the Zionist Camp plans to submit a proposal to break up the government later Monday. In a statement, MK Merav Michaeli, chairperson of the party, said that the measure was coming at the right time. “Even members of the coalition have lost faith in the Prime Minister. If Binyamin Netanyahu cannot control the members of his coalition and get them to raise their hands to support the government, that is his problem.”

On Friday, at least two MKs, Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) and Oren Chazan (Likud) said they would not feel committed to voting with the government in the wake of the removal of dozens of people from the buildings in Chevron on Friday. Speaking Friday, Chazan said that “it would be best for the government if it did not propose any laws on Monday” – and if the opposition declared them to be votes of no confidence, that would bring the government down. “It is unacceptable for the Defense Minister to run his own private policy, defying what the government has decided. I have been complaining for a long time about the Defense Minister’s implementation of a de facto building freeze. It stands to reason that anyone who buys a house should be able to live in it, whether it is in Tel Aviv or Chevron.”

Speaking to Army Radio Sunday, Smotrich somewhat softened his tone, saying that “most of the ministers and MKs in the coalition believe that Ya’alon’s actions were unnecessary, and a very serious violation of coalition agreements. I am required to use whatever power I have as a legislator in order to influence government policy. Of course that needs to be done within the confines of the coalition.” He stressed that he was not seeking to bring the government down, but to bring about policy change.

Security forces entered the Avraham Avinu neighborhood of Chevron, adjacent to Me’aras Hamachpelah, and removed the Jews who had moved into the Beit Rachel and Beit Leah buildings a day earlier. Although the residents – as well as several government minister and MKs – said that the buildings had been acquired legally, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had demanded to see documentation attesting to the sale – which the residents are reticent to produce, in order not to endanger the lives of the former owners, who, by selling their property to Jews, are now subject to a death penalty sentence by the Palestinian Authority.”