The empty chairs in Sunday's meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense sub-committee on Judea and Samaria.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Defense Ministry boycotted a Knesset meeting Sunday to protest a slur by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), who charged the ministry was so useless it might as well be working on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in Area C of the West Bank.
The boycott came amid heightened tensions between the Defense Ministry and right-wing politicians.
Yogev, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria, habitually goes after Defense Ministry and IDF representatives.
This includes representatives from the Civil Administration and the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
Last week, Yogev charged that “COGAT is doing nothing” when it comes to land issues with Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank.
It might as well be called the office “of the Coordinator of Palestinian Activities in the Territories,” Yogev said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in response, “It’s unacceptable for uniformed officers to become the object of [verbal] attacks and incitement, especially by a Knesset member who chairs a respected committee.”
It’s one thing to verbally assault politicians, Liberman said, but its quite another to go after IDF representatives who because of their jobs are not free to respond.
Yogev in turn charged that Liberman and his office had showed “contempt” for the Knesset and the politicians in the room by failing to show up for a meeting on environmental issues in Judea and Samaria.
“No one is immune from substantive criticism,” he said.
On Thursday, the Civil Administration boycotted a panel on the environment sponsored by the Gush Etzion Field School that was scheduled to take place at the University of Ariel in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
This followed a call by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) for the Civil Administration to be disbanded.
Smotrich has also submitted a private member bill to the Knesset that would force the Civil Administration’s closure.
Such a move would end IDF civilian control of Jews in Area C of the West Bank, and place them instead under the control of government offices in sovereign Israel.
It is one a many moves Smotrich’s party has taken to push forward de facto annexation of the West Bank.