Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

Settlers in charge both sides of Green Line

All that talk about the Israeli elections proving Israelis were moving to the centre should be stilled by the new coalition agreement. So-called centrist Lapid has, as expected, opted out of taking a role in the occupation-oversight ministries in favour of domestic issues. As finance minister, he’s going to have his hands full trying to keep control of the massive budget deficit.

That leaves the key ministries – housing, trade and industry, tourism and Jerusalem – in the hands of hardcore settlers.

The worst of this bunch is Uri Ariel, the new housing minister, who founded several settlements and for many years was head of Yesha, effectively the settlers’ government in the West Bank.

An interesting piece on Ariel also reveals that most of the senior officials at the Israeli Lands Authority (ILA), the state body entrusted with land management issues inside Israel, as well as the occupied territories, are former settler leaders.

ILA chairman Bentzi Lieberman was once chairman of both the Samaria Regional Council and the Yesha Council.

ILA deputy director Leora Tushinsky was administrative vice president of Tnufa at the Prime Minister’s Office [which helped to rehouse the Gaza settlers] and served as CEO of the Samaria Regional Council when [Avigdor] Lieberman was council chairman. …

Publicist Yehoshua Mor-Yosef, a close friend of Lieberman and former spokesman for the Yesha Council, is now employed in the ILA spokesman’s office. Doron Ben-Shlomi, past chairman of the settlers’ committee of Gush Katif evacuees, was appointed assistant to the ILA’s director general.

At the Interior Ministry you can find Pinchas Wallerstein, a political and social activist in the West Bank and formerly one of the heads of Gush Emunim and the Yesha Council, and now chairman of the ministry’s boundaries investigation committee.

So no surprise that Israeli policy towards Palestinians is no different whichever side of the Green Line one stands on.

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