The decision to freeze a plan that would fully place all Civil Administration staff under IDF auspices, was hailed by settlers and activists on Sunday as one more step on the road toward the Israeli application of sovereignty in the West Bank.
For settlers the IDF’s Civil Administration is symbolic of Israeli military control over the lives of over 420,000 Israelis who live in Area C of the West Bank.
The Civil Administration is in change of Israeli and Palestinian life in Area C. Settlers, however, would like their civilian affairs to be handled by the same government office that deal with Israeli citizens who live within sovereign Israel. It’s the kind of reform that had little hope of implementation under past Israeli governments, which had not embraced the application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.
Settlers and activists were upset, therefore, to learn that a plan was in the works to ensure that all IDF Civil Administration staff were paid by the IDF.
At present some of the senior IDF staff in charge of civilian affairs, are paid by the governmental ministries within sovereign Israel in a manner similar to regular civil servants.
Under the new plan that practice would end and all IDF Civil Administration employees would be paid for by the army.
Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett asking them to freeze the plan, explaining that it discriminated against the Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and was therefore, unacceptable. Some 20 settler leaders were signed onto the letter.
On Sunday, Elhayani’s office reported that the plan had been frozen by Netanyahu and Bennett.
Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz and Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan welcomed the decision. They both said that what was needed was to ensure that all Civil Administration staff were no longer under the IDF, but rather became civil servants under the auspices of regular government offices.
The Sovereignty Movement wanted that the plan, if implemented, “would have set back the process of normalization, which the government of Israel has promised to its citizens since they have equal obligations.”
Sovereignty Movement co-chairwomen Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar said they hoped the plan was shelved and not just frozen.
“The residents of Judea and Samaria deserve to receive civil services directly from the government ministries and not from a military arbiter and without impossible military bureaucracy that impedes the development of the settlement enterprise,” the two women stated.