Attorney General Accuses Minister of Mishandling Resolution That Favors Settlements for Funding

In unusual rebuke, Avichai Mendelblit says Housing Minister Galant submitted to the cabinet resolution without having it reviewed by the AG's office

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.Credit: Meged Gozani
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit took Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant to task for the manner in which he introduced a resolution on West Bank settlements on Sunday. The cabinet approved the resolution granting national priority status to some isolated West Bank settlements, among other locations.

Mendelblit wrote in an unusually strongly worded letter that Galant submitted to the cabinet resolution without having it reviewed and approved by the attorney general's office, and without giving the members of the cabinet time to study it.

The Housing Ministry’s new National Priorities Map is a list of locales eligible for funding to cover planning and development.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant outside the cabinet room, November 25, 2018.Credit: Emil Salman

In his letter, the existence of which was initially reported by Army Radio and which was also obtained by Haaretz, Mendelblit said he only learned about the resolution from his office's representative at the cabinet meeting, even though Galant had been advised that he was required to get advance approval before introducing it. Galant's office declined to comment for this report.

The resolution will benefit West Bank settlements including Migron, Kerem Re'im and Shvut Rachel. According to a Housing Ministry statement, the designation will also mean that "seam communities" up to 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the Gaza Strip and up to two kilometers from Israel's northern border – will get substantial funds to defray infrastructure development costs.

Mendelblit wrote that the Housing Ministry had had lengthy consultations with his office about both categories of communities and the attorney general's office had advised the ministry that the seam community category presented "legal difficulties" and that Galant had also been advised that the inclusion of the settlements required more thorough investigation than could be conducted prior to the cabinet meeting.

Construction in the Eli settlement in the West Bank, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman

"Introducing new resolutions at the cabinet meeting itself is highly irregular and should be avoided to the extent possiblem," Mendelblit wrote, adding that one might wonder why it was not done in this case. At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Mendelblit's representative also voiced concern that the resolution had not been approved in advance, but the resolution passed in any event.

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