APN to Biden: Tell Netanyahu to Reverse Smotrich Appointment as West Bank Governor

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today granted sweeping governing authorities in the West Bank to his Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a measure that is a first step toward formal, de jure annexation of West Bank occupied territories.

Americans for Peace Now (APN) strongly condemns this step and calls on the Biden administration to demand that Israel reverse this step.   

The agreement between Netanyahu and Smotrich constitutes a structural change in the way Israel rules the territory it captured in 1967. Instead of the occupied territory being subject to the military commander, as stipulated in international law, civilian aspects of running the occupation will now be directed by a civilian member of the occupying power who is explicitly committed to enhancing Israel’s sovereignty in the occupied West Bank. In addition, Smotrich is committed to enhancing the direct application of Israeli laws over Israeli citizens residing in the West Bank, Jewish settlers, hence solidifying the apartheid-like reality in the West Bank.

APN’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “Both in letter and in spirit, the agreement that turns Smotrich into the governor of the West Bank means annexation. The Biden administration, which vehemently opposes unilateral steps such as annexation, should immediately intervene and demand that Netanyahu reverse this step. There is a line that must not be crossed. It is the Green Line, which separates sovereign Israel from the territories it is supposed to temporarily occupy, pending a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Crossing this line toward annexation must not be tolerated, neither by the US government nor by the international community.”