After years of delay – and assuming that the Finance Ministry can be convinced of the wisdom of the move – the Civil Administration in Yehudah and Shomron will be expanded for the first time ever, Yisrael Hayom reported. The Civil Administration is in essence the civilian arm of the military government that is in charge of the region.
The proposal to expand the resources – especially the staff – of the Civil Administration has been floated for several years, but since 1993, with the signing of the Oslo Accords, various governments, including the current one, have resisted expanding the capabilities of the organization, on the theory that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – resulting in an independent Palestinian state and Israeli annexation of the settlement blocs or Area C – was imminent.
It has become obvious to many, however, that such an agreement is far from imminent, the report said, and numerous government officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, have promoted the idea of expanding the Administration’s footprint and resources, which, according to officials, has become necessary, given the expanded population in Yehudah and Shomron.
The plan developed by Liberman’s office and other officials would see the Administration’s staff nearly double, with 280 new people hired – 150 of them Palestinian Authority Arabs, who would be working for the military administration on issues in Area B, which is under PA civilian control and Israeli military authority. The Finance Ministry has expressed opposition to funding these new jobs, the report said, although negotiations are ongoing to develop a budget to hire as many people as possible.
Achvat Ben-Hur, director of the Administration, said in an interview that “the purpose of the Civil Administration is to ensure security and stability for all residents of the region, as well as an improvement in the quality of life of all those who live and visit there. We develop our policies based on the interests of Israel.” The lack of manpower has greatly impeded the work of the Authority, especially its capacity to enforce laws against illegal building and illegal excavation of stones and other minerals, he said.
In addition, the Civil Administration authorizes construction projects in Yehudah and Shomron – and according to Ben-Hur, as many as 40 projects are being held up because there are not enough inspectors to work on infrastructure, road and other aspects of development.
MK Moti Yogev, who heads the Knesset subcommittee for affairs in Yehudah and Shomron, said that the plan was “essential. If today the Civil Administration cannot accomplish its goals, what will happen five years from now? It is not only Jewish settlement that will be harmed, but the Palestinian population will suffer as well. If there are no water resources, if there are no electricity or sanitation infrastructures, if there are no roads that can handle the growing population, they suffer from these things as much as we do,” Yogev said.