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Conflict between settlers and troops leads to tensions in the coalition

Jewish Power Knesset member said in an interview Ben Gvir’s threat to dissolve the coalition should be taken seriously

Jewish Power MK Limor Son Har Melech surrounded by police as she protests the removal of a West Bank settler's illegally planted orchard, Feb. 15, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot/Twitter)

Tensions have erupted between coalition members after Israel's Border Police evicted a group of settlers from disputed land in the Shiloh valley on Wednesday. 

Video on Israeli news sites showed settlers resisting the police, leading to physical altercations. Other settlers tied themselves to trees in protest. 

Following the incident, four border police officers were suspended for their actions. 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Jewish Power party, released a video statement with fellow party member, Limor Son Har-Melech, saying, "We did not sign up for this. We joined the government based on the prime minister's promise that it would be a fully right-wing government." 

Har-Melech further accused the border police of sexually assaulting her during the demonstration against eviction, a claim which they deny.

Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, who also serves in the Defense Ministry, has demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give him control over civilian affairs in the territories of Judea and Samaria, in accordance with the coalition agreement. 

Smotrich has not been able to come to an agreement with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the specifics of the civil authorities that Smotrich will have in the ministry. 

"If Gallant has a problem, he's welcome to resign. Plenty can take his place," Smotrich said, expressing his frustration after the evacuation.

On Thursday morning, Jewish Power Knesset Member Almog Cohen told Radio 103FM that Ben Gvir’s threat to dissolve the coalition should be taken seriously. 

"We're fighting to achieve national security," he said. "If we aren't given the necessary and proper tools to fulfill that task, then we won't be able to be part of the government." 

The dispute over the property in Samaria has been ongoing for several years, and the IDF’s Civil Authority had already ordered the removal of the trees, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. 

Sources in the government also said that Smotrich was notified of the evacuation ahead of time.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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