US meddles in Israeli gov’t affairs: Warns against giving minister powers over Judea, Samaria

Israeli official slams the U.S. for interfering in internal government policies.

By World Israel News Staff

The Biden administration has warned the Israeli government that the transfer of authority over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich would be seen as a step towards annexation, Axios correspondent Barak Ravid reported Thursday evening, citing U.S. officials.

Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf held talks with National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and other senior officials in Jerusalem last week in a bid to prevent a transfer of powers to Smotrich and in doing so, curb further escalation in the region, the report said.

Under the current coalition agreement, Smotrich is slated to receive control over military units responsible for civilian policy in Judea and Samaria.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, however, has strongly opposed transferring powers to Smotrich. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked for proposals from both ministers to settle the matter.

A State Department spokesman said that the U.S. considers unilateral moves like settlement expansion and annexation as harming peace efforts.

“The Biden administration believes it is critical for Israel and the Palestinians to avoid unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions and undermine efforts to advance negotiations on a two-state solution, such as steps towards annexation. This certainly includes the further extension of Israeli civilian law to the West Bank,” the report quoted the State Department as saying.

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Israel National News cited a senior Israeli official as condemning the U.S. for “interfering” with domestic matters.

“It is unthinkable that the U.S. interferes in the division of powers of the Israeli government,” the official said.

“After decades in which the settlers of Judea and Samaria live under a military regime, the time has come to provide equal citizenship and proper services to the settlers as well. There are coalition agreements and all the party leaders will insist that they be fulfilled and so it will be,” he added, according to the report.