Coalition Snag Over Illegal Arab Building in Area C

Head of the New Hope party Gideon Saar leading a faction meeting at the Knesset, Tuesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The so-called “change” coalition has yet to resolve all the differences among its ideologically incompatible partners ahead of a scheduled swearing-in on Sunday.

Chief among the obstacles at this point seems to be a dispute over Palestinian construction in Area C of Yehuda and Shomron, approximately 60 percent of the region, under full Israeli security and civil control.

Gideon Saar’s New Hope party is demanding the formation of a new body to oversee enforcement of the law pertaining to illegal construction by Palestinians in the area. The party claims that this was agreed to when it entered the coalition.

Gantz objects to this, as the matter is traditionally under his ministry’s Civil Administration, according to Walla News.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party is seeking to keep such matters under his bailiwick in the ministry’s Civil Administration. They also say their position has already been agreed to, according to Channel 12.

Gantz also noted that the parties had agreed to set aside contentious issues such as this in order to facilitate a unity government comprised of right-wing, centrist, leftist and Arab parties.

That the illegal Arab housing issue is more than a bureaucratic tiff was indicated by a statement attributed to New Hope MK Zeev Elkin, who warned that “without this, the government won’t be formed.”

In addition to a multi-billion shekel aid package for the Arab sector, there is the demand from the Ra’am party to cancel fines imposed on illegal construction.

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett met with Gantz on Monday to try to settle the issue, Walla said.

Later, on Tuesday evening, Channel 13 reported that the Jewish side of the housing issues in Yehuda and Shomron was emerging as an obstacle, as well, in the planned evacuation of the illegal outpost Evyatar.

The government is expected to take down the outpost, which was recently rebuilt, with dozens of families moving in.

It could pit Yamina, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu against Yesh Atid, Meretz and Labor, the network noted.

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