Right-wing ministers on verge of bolting government following reports of PA arms transfer

Right-wing ministers are reportedly rethinking their presence in Netanyahu’s government following reports of Israeli approval for US arms transfer to the Palestinian Authority.

By World Israel News Staff

Senior right-wing government ministers, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit), are “seething” following a report from earlier in the week that the the United States recently transferred armored personnel carriers (APCs) and weapons to the Palestinian Authority with Israel’s permission.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the transfer was conducted with the approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is supervised by Smotrich, who also serves as Minister in the Defense Ministry.

According to the report, the weapons were transferred to the PA with the help of Jordanian mediation in order to help “enforce law and order and strengthen the capabilities of the Palestinian security mechanisms in the confrontation with the armed units in Jenin and Nablus (Shechem).”

Palestinian security officials said that the shipment featured no less than 1,500 weapons – including laser-guided M-16 rifles and Kalashnikovs.

According to an Army Radio report, the Israeli government set a number of conditions for the arms transfer:

1. That they would only be used for anti-terrorist activity and not against criminal offenders.

2. The weapons would only end up in the hands of certain security mechanisms – general security, counterintelligence, and police force.

Israeli defense sources told Army Radio that approval for the transfer came after successive summits between Israel and the PA in Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh earlier in the year.

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According to these officials, additional steps are being considered to aid the PA but are conditioned on two factors: the presentation of operational achievements by the Palestinian Authority and the official return of security coordination with Israel terminated by Abbas at the beginning of the year.

Smotrich ‘boiling with rage’

Advisors to Minister Bezalel Smotrich said he had not approved the move and was “boiling with rage.”

Sources close to the minister believe that the measures to arm the Palestinian Authority and make inroads with the Left with regards to the proposed judicial reforms are a “pre-payment to Gantz to form a left-wing government that will revive the Oslo Accords,” Arutz Sheva reported.

“Smotrich is therefore holding an urgent consultation with party members this morning.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, if you don’t promise that the reports on weapons being give to the terrorists of the Palestinian Authority are wrong, there will be consequences,” threatened National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. “If you intend to work toward an Oslo government 2.0, please update your ministers and the public, and we’ll act accordingly.”

Opposition members also slammed the reported arms transfer. MK Hili Tropper from Gantz’s National Unity Party pointed out that his party was not interested in participating in a Netanyahu-led government.

“The government should focus on strengthening security, the economy, and bridging internal rifts instead of making headlines and shifting responsibility to others as they have been doing for nearly ten months. Security requires actions – not words. There is no need to pay a fee for our entry into the government because such a move is not on the agenda in the first place,” he was quoted as saying.

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Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar of the Sovereignty Movement responded to the reports: “30 years ago we shouted not to give them guns – today we have to shout to not give them armored personnel carriers, advanced spy equipment and cyber training.”

“To make a mistake once is acceptable but to repeat the same mistake a second time means that something is wrong. The State of Israel must exercise its sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, thereby making a firm and clear statement that these areas are the exclusive territories of Israel.”

Defense Minister Yoav Galant denied that his office was involved in approving the transfers.

“Contrary to the false reports emerging from the various sources, since Defense Minister Yoav Galant took office, the transfer of lethal weapons to the Palestinian Authority has not been approved. Any attempt to present things in a different way is false.”

The Unit for Coordination of Government Operations in the Territories (COGAT) also stated that no weapons were transferred to the Palestinian Authority during the past year. According to one report, the transfer of bullet-proof vehicles without ammunition has been approved, but the claim has not been confirmed.

Have Palestinians also lost trust in the Palestinian Authority?

Disgusted by PA corruption, large portions of the local population openly identify with its Islamic, Iran-backed rivals – Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – which aim to overthrow the ruling Fatah faction.

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These groups have been behind much of the latest wave of terrorism Israel has been suffering through, with over a thousand attacks and 29 dead since the beginning of the year.

Specifically Jenin and Nablus have been major bases for planning and carrying out such attacks against Israelis in the region, and the IDF went into Jenin in a massive, two-day operation in early July to uproot its terror infrastructure.

The PA then began to reassert its authority by arresting dozens of Hamas and PIJ activists, a move that was bitterly decried by the groups’ leaders.

According to Al Quds, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also recently ordered his security heads to hit the terror cells that challenge his authority “with an iron fist.”

Abbas has also tried using carrots as well as sticks to regain popularity. After the IDF incursion in July, called Operation Home and Garden, he briefly visited Jenin for the first time in years to laud the Palestinians who had clashed with the Israeli forces and promise aid to rebuild the areas the IDF had destroyed.