Government Creates Committee to Quell Coalition Crisis

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Israeli government acted on Monday to quell the coalition crisis precipitated by the eviction of Jewish families from two buildings in Chevron, creating a ministerial committee to take responsibility for “areas of national importance, Gaza perimeter communities and the periphery,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Earlier reports notwithstanding, the committee will not take over Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s authority over Yehudah and Shomron.

Ya’alon’s order to evict the families until their claims of ownership could be verified touched off a rebellion. MKs Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), MK Oren Hazan (Likud) Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) threatened to boycott coalition votes if the families were not allowed back.

The establishment of the committee was made at the request of Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who cited an article in the Likud-Jewish Home coalition agreement mandating such a committee.

Netanyahu will serve as committee chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was appointed vice-chairman. Jewish Home ministers Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel will also be members.

The prime minister supported Yaalon’s decision, but promised a swift disposition of the matter that would allow the families to return to their new homes.

“The government supports the settlement [project] at all times, especially in these days when it faces a terror onslaught with determination and courage. At the same time,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “We are a nation of laws and must respect the rule of law.”