Many Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have rejected a change in the Israeli government, saying that the nationalist leader is likely to follow the same right-wing agenda due to the replacement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Naftali Bennett, the 49-year-old former head of Israel’s main settlement organization on the West Bank and former Netanyahu ally, would be the country’s new leader under a rag coalition.
Opposition and centrist leader Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Bennett Wednesday night declared they entered into an agreement to form a new government to oust the current Netanyahu after a twelve-year career as prime minister.
Bassem al-Salhi, a representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said the designated prime minister was no less extreme than Netanyahu.
“He will make sure he expresses how extreme he is in government,” he said.
Bennett was a strong supporter of the annexation of parts of the West Bank that captured and occupied Israel in a 1967 war.
However, Bennett seems to have proposed a continuation of the status quo in recent days, with the mitigation of conditions for Palestinians.
‘I think in this context is to reduce the conflict. We will not solve it. But wherever we can [improve conditions] – more crossroads, more quality of life, more business, more industry – we will do it. ”
“We need a serious change”
Hamas, the group that rules the besieged Gaza Strip, said it made no difference who Israel ruled.
‘Palestinians have seen dozens of Israeli governments throughout history, right, left, center, as they call it. But everyone was hostile to the rights of our Palestinian people, and they all had hostile policies of expansionism, “said Hazem Qassem, a spokesman.
Sami Abou Shehadeh, leader of the Palestinian nationalist Balad party, told Al Jazeera from occupied East Jerusalem that the issue was not Netanyahu’s “personality” but the policies pursued by Israel.
“What we need is a serious change in Israel’s policy, not in personality. The situation was very bad before Netanyahu, and as long as Israel insists on its own policies, it will remain bad after Netanyahu. That’s why we oppose this government [new coalition]. ”
Former PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the Netanyahu years still had ‘built-in systems of racism, extremism, violence and lawlessness’.
“His former groups will retain his legacy,” she tweeted.
The end of the Netanyahu era still contains built-in systems of racism, extremism, violence and lawlessness + expansion, annexation and lawlessness. His former groups will retain his legacy. It depends on the diminished progressive forces to challenge and change this legacy https://t.co/v2NhpSWQzX
– Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) 2 June 2021
Similar sentiments have been expressed elsewhere.
“There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another,” Ahmed Rezik, 29, a government official in Gaza, told Reuters.
“They are good or bad for their nation. And when it comes to us, they are all bad, and all refuse to give the Palestinians their rights and their land. ”
The coalition agreement limited the March 23 election in which neither Netanyahu’s Likud party nor its allies or their opponents won a majority in the legislature. This was Israel’s fourth national vote in two years.
The government consists of a patchwork quilt of small and medium-sized parties from across the political spectrum
The agreement includes the United Arab List, making it the first party of Palestinian citizens of Israel ever to be part of a governing coalition in Israel.
Mansour Abbas, leader of the United Arab List, has put aside the differences with Bennett and said he hopes to improve conditions for Palestinian citizens who complain about discrimination and neglect by the government.
“We have decided to join the government in changing the balance between political forces in the country,” the 47-year-old said in a message to supporters after signing the coalition agreement.
Abbas’ party said the deal included the allocation of more than 53 billion shekels ($ 16 billion) to improve infrastructure and combat violent crime.
It also contains provisions to freeze slopes of houses built without permits in Palestinian villages and grant official status to Bedouin villages in the Negev desert, a stronghold for support, the party said.
But he has been criticized in the West Bank and Gaza for linking himself to what they see as the enemy.
“What will he do if they ask him to vote on the start of a new war against Gaza?” said Badri Karam, 21, in Gaza.
“Will he accept it because he is part of the murder of Palestinians?”