JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved the establishment of a ministerial committee on settlement affairs.
The committee, approved Sunday, will be headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The committee is believed to have been formed in order to reduce the power that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has over the settlements, as well as an attempt to pacify angry supporters of West Bank outposts.
Plans for the committee were set in place during the discussions over evacuating several apartment buildings that Israel’s Supreme Court ruled were built on privately owned Palestinian land in the outlying neighborhood of Ulpana in the Beit El settlement.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, “The committee will have authority to formulate government policy regarding unregulated construction on state and private lands, including the main issues that have reached the courts. Committee decisions will have the status of Cabinet decisions and ministers will be unable to appeal them.”
Many believe that the new committee, of which Barak will be a member, will not diminish his powers.
Other members are reported to be Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman; Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz; Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz; Interior Minister Eli Yishai; Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon; Minister Without Profile Zeev Binyamin Begin; Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein; Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar; and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan.