Religious Zionism Boycotts Cabinet Meeting Over Outpost Conflict

By Shmuel Smith

Minister of Finance and chairman of the Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich seen with security detail. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — The Religious Zionism party boycotted a Cabinet meeting on Sunday and threatened to boycott votes in the Knesset on Monday to protest the government’s dismantling of an outpost in the Shomron.

Israeli police took down the newly-established hilltop outpost community on Friday afternoon, just hours after several structures of the outpost were erected.

The outpost was named Ohr Chaim, in honor of the late Religious Zionist spiritual leader, Rabbi Chaim Druckman z”l.

According to activists, seven people were detained by police at the site. Police officials did not immediately comment, according to The Times of Israel.

A statement released in the name of the families says that they will “continue to hold on to the hilltop even if we are evacuated 100 times.”

Religious Zionism party officials said on Sunday morning said it was a “violation of the coalition agreement to evacuate the Or Chaim outpost on Friday without coordination and contrary to Smotrich’s directive to the civil administration.”

They warned on Sunday that “if there is no progress in resolving the crisis, we will consider absenting ourselves from the Knesset votes on Monday.”

Religious Zionism director Yehuda Vald said on social media: “There are explicit agreements on the transfer of powers and receiving tools to make a real change in normalizing settlements and stopping the Arab takeover of Area C in the Jewish state. The uncoordinated evacuation on Friday is a display of a lack of understanding of how things should be conducted. I hope that Netanyahu and [Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant will consider a new course so that we can together promote the right-wing policy for which we were elected.”

The civil administration in Yehuda and Shomron came under the control of Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich, who held a meeting with Gallant recently that was ostensibly intended to avoid such conflicts of authority.

In response to the events at Ohr Chaim, Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir demanded at the cabinet meeting the destruction of six illegal structures built by Palestinians in Area C over the last month, as well as the illegal Khan al Ahmar Bedouin encampment.

“The law is the law and there is one law for all. I will not accept racism against Jews on my watch. Just as the defense minister chose to destroy a Jewish outpost, we demand that illegal Arab construction in Yehuda and Shomron be destroyed,” Ben Gvir declared.

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