The removal of an outpost in the West Bank puts Israel’s new coalition to the test

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JERUSALEM (UKTN) — Israeli authorities on Friday dismantled a small settler outpost in the occupied West Bank, a day after it was established, as a major test of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new ruling coalition.

Footage broadcast by Israeli media showed troops removing the Or Chaim outpost without any violence. However, the move sparked a dispute between the ultra-nationalist wing of Israel’s new government and its partner, Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Netanyahu’s new coalition has made settlement expansion one of its priorities. While Israeli authorities distinguish between settlements and unauthorized outposts, the international community overwhelmingly views all settlements as illegal and obstacles to peace.

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Or Chaim, named after the late religious Zionist leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman, was built Thursday by five settler families near the Palestinian town of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

Defense Minister Yoav Galant ordered the evacuation of the outpost, but Bezalel Smotrich — head of the ultranationalist Religious Zionist party and a cabinet minister with jurisdiction over some Israeli activities in the West Bank — said this went against his Friday morning directive to evacuate all actions at the new outpost pending further talks.

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Under the terms that formed Netanyahu’s coalition, Smotrich was appointed minister in the Defense Ministry, responsible for Israel’s activities in the West Bank. He is also the Minister of Finance.

Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister will hold talks on the matter next week. The agency released a statement from Netanyahu on Friday, saying he supported settlement building “but only if done legally and coordinated in advance with the prime minister and security officials, which has not happened in this case.”

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The standoff comes a day after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid the Biden administration’s unease over the Netanyahu administration’s commitments to speed up settlement construction in the West Bank. expand.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War and has built more than 130 authorized settlements there, many of which resemble small towns, with apartment blocks, shopping malls and industrial zones. The Palestinians want the West Bank to be the most important part of their future state.

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