The Defense Ministry on Wednesday morning accused Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon of mixing political considerations with security issues, after he charged that Defense Minister Ehud Barak should be stripped of the authority to determine the fate of West Bank settlements.
Ya'alon voiced this opinion after the IDF had ordered the evacuation of 15 families from an apartment complex they claim they legally purchased in Hebron. Security forces evacuated the home Wednesday afternoon.Barak's bureau lashed back at Ya'alon saying, "the man who on Tuesday declared himself as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's successor, began his primary campaign by trying to enlist Feiglin supporters in the Likud.""It is unfortunate that Ya'alon mixes cheap political considerations in defense establishment decisions, while undermining the responsibility of the government to protect democracy and the rule of law."Ya'alon recommended transferring the responsibility over settlements in Judea and Samaria, where over 300,000 Jews have settled according to the IDF, to other ministers. The vice premier accused the defense minister of running an oppositional platform within the government regarding Jewish settlements."All he does is start fires instead of solving problems," said Ya'alon, whose comments reflected direct criticism from right-wing lawmakers of Barak over the issue. Another Likud MK, Tzipi Hotovely, warned on Tuesday that Netanyahu must allow the families to remain or risk the collapse of the government. From Jerusalem, MK Danny Danon (Likud) accused Barak of using the Hebron home to launch his reelection campaign.Despite the vitriolic rhetoric emanating from the Right, Netanyahu insisted on Tuesday that he and Barak were "in coordination," but meetings between the two and other ministers ended without definitive decisions Tuesday night.Legal officials said Wednesday morning that residents of the disputed Hebron home Beit Hamachpela must evacuate by April 25th, following the late-night meeting between Netanyhau, Barak and a small group of ministers. The IDF told the residents on Monday that they must leave by 3 p.m. Tuesday, or face a forced removal, because they lacked the necessary permits.Late Tuesday night, 15 Hebron Jewish families held a small housewarming party in their newly purchased building, as the ministers met in Jerusalem to decide their fate.Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told Israel Radio Wednesday morning that as far as he understood the situation, the discussion over the home was not over, nor had decisions been made. Sa'ar said that if it is found that the home was purchased legally, the government should let the residents stay in the apartments since the government's position is that Jews should live in Hebron. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report