Israel’s ‘most far right govt’ comes to power, signals settlement expansion

Benjamin Netanyahu Editorial credit: paparazzza /

Israel’s new right-wing coalition government, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, has asserted that the “Jewish people has an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel.”

The declaration is contained in the first sentence of the coalition agreement for the new government which was sworn in on Thursday, and signals that it will consider settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law, its top priority.

To regain power Netanyahu, 73, partnered up with a coalition that includes a mix of an ultra-Orthodox and right-wing bloc.

Far-right leaders who have been given top posts, such as Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, and Jewish Power leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, previously expressed support for Baruch Goldstein who killed 29 Palestinians in a shooting at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, both of whom live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, will occupy senior positions in the new government. Smotrich will be Finance Minister and also have authority over settlements, while Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in 2007 of “incitement against Arabs” after he called for Palestinians in Israel to be expelled, will become National Security Minister with increased authority over the police, including in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu previously served as Prime Minister from 1996-99 and again from 2009-21 – making him the country’s longest serving prime minister.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have already condemned the new coalition government.

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The policies announced by Israel’s new government “confirm its fascism towards our people and our heroic [political] prisoners,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Qassem said the “Palestinian resistance” will not allow Netanyahu’s “new fascist government” to “cross red lines.” “We are facing a new Zionist government, which is the most right-wing and extreme,” he warned.

And the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, said that the new Israeli government’s motto was “extremism and apartheid.”

Netanyahu has said his government’s top priorities will be:

  • To prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
  • To restore security and governance.
  • To deal with the cost of living and housing problems.
  • To expand the circle of peace (a reference to implementing further normalisation accords with Arab states).

Also on Thursday, the Knesset elected a new speaker, Likud MK Amir Ohana, who becomes the its first openly gay speaker.

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