Many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have rejected a change in the Israeli government, saying the nationalist leader who should replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely follow the same right-wing agenda.
Naftali Bennett, a former head of the main Israeli settlement organization in the West Bank and a former ally of Netanyahu, 49, would be the country’s new leader under a patchwork coalition.
Opposition and centrist leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Bennett he declared Wednesday night they had reached an agreement to form a new government to oust incumbent Netanyahu after 12 years as prime minister.
Bassem al-Salhi, a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the appointed prime minister was no less extreme than Netanyahu.
“He will make sure to express how extreme he is in government,” he said.
Bennett has been a staunch supporter of the annexation of parts of the West Bank that Israel captured and occupied in a 1967 war.
However, in recent days Bennett seemed to propose the continuation of the status quo, with some flexibility in conditions for the Palestinians.
“My thinking in this context is to reduce the conflict. We will not solve it. But wherever we can [improve conditions] – more crossing points, more quality of life, more business, more industry – we will do it “.
“We need serious change”
Hamas, the group that rules the besieged Gaza Strip, said it doesn’t matter who governs Israel.
“Palestinians have seen dozens of Israeli governments throughout history, right, left, center, as they say. But they have all been hostile to the rights of our Palestinian people and they all had hostile policies of expansionism, ”said spokesman Hazem Qassem.
Sami Abu Shehadeh, leader of the Palestinian nationalist party Balad, told Al Jazeera in occupied East Jerusalem that the issue was not Netanyahu’s “personality,” but the policies Israel pursues.
“What we need is a serious change in Israeli policies, not in personalities. The situation was very bad before Netanyahu, and as long as Israel insists on its own policies, it will continue to be bad after Netanyahu. That is why we oppose this government [new coalition]”.
Former PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said Netanyahu’s years still had “integrated systems of racism, extremism, violence and illegality.”
“Their former cohorts will keep their legacy,” he tweeted.
The end of the Netanyahu era still contains integrated systems of racism, extremism, violence and illegality + expansionism, annexation and illegality. Their former cohorts will maintain their legacy. It is up to the diminished progressive forces to challenge and change this legacy https://t.co/v2NhpSWQzX
– Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) June 2, 2021
Similar feelings were expressed elsewhere.
“There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another,” Ahmed Rezik, 29, a government worker in Gaza, told Reuters news agency.
“They are good or bad for their nation. And when it comes to us, they are all bad and they all refuse to give the Palestinians their rights and their land. ”
The coalition deal limited the March 23 elections in which neither Netanyahu’s Likud party nor its allies nor opponents won a majority in the legislature. It was Israel’s fourth national vote in two years.
Government formation comprises a mosaic of small and medium-sized parties across the political spectrum
The agreement includes the United Arab List, which would make it the first Palestinian citizens’ party in Israel to ever form part of a governing coalition in Israel.
United Arab list leader Mansour Abbas has set aside differences with Bennett and said he hopes to improve conditions for Palestinian citizens who complain about discrimination and government negligence.
“We decided to join the government to change the balance of political forces in the country,” the 47-year-old said in a message to supporters after signing the coalition agreement.
Abbas’s party said the deal includes the allocation of more than 53 billion shekels ($ 16 billion) to improve infrastructure and fight violent crime.
It also includes provisions freezing the demolition of houses built without permits in Palestinian villages and granting official status to Bedouin cities in the Negev desert, a stronghold of support, the party said.
But he has been criticized in the West Bank and Gaza for standing by what they consider the enemy.
“What will he do when he is asked to vote to start a new war against Gaza?” Badri Karam, 21, said in Gaza.
“Will he accept it, being part of the Palestinian assassination?”