The New Government in Israel

January 27, 2023

It is clear that Benjamin Netanyahu's new government will continue to pursue and add to policies and practices that previous Israeli governments enacted against Palestine and the Palestinian people. They include killings; only yesterday, the occupying Power killed nine Palestinians during its raid on Jenin refugee camp, land looting, military raids, arrests, home demolitions, displacements, settlers' terror, and attacks on Christian and Muslim holy sites. Also, to date, no administration in Israel has publicly endorsed the concept of a two-state solution as a core component of its political platform. The rhetoric and actions of Israel's new government continue to perpetuate an inciting and discriminatory narrative and speech. Its coalition agreements are causing concern even among members of the international community.

The guiding principle of the new Israeli government's coalition agreements is driven by the belief in Jewish supremacy and the denial of self-determination for the Palestinian people, whether they are citizens of Israel, under military occupation, or refugees, including all Palestinians in exile.  This principle of Jewish dominance and control is reflected in the government's efforts to Judaize the entire territory under Israel's control, including by promoting and developing Jewish-only construction in the Galilee and Naqab and Jewish colonial settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Arab Syrian Golan. This government aims to legalize Palestinian subjugation and oppression, segregation and racial discrimination, and territorial Judaization as part of its agenda. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority in Israel, concluded in its recently published position paper that: "Ultimately, the guiding principles of the new government indicate clear criminal intent of the coalition members, headed by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, to commit crimes according to the Rome Statute, including crimes against humanity (namely, the crime of Apartheid) and war crimes."

The State of Palestine will continue to seek international action through various political and legal means, including international bodies and tribunals, towards achieving accountability and justice, ending Israel's decades-long occupation, and achieving Palestine's independence on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

This FAQ highlights several key aspects of the new Israeli government's coalition agreements that aim to further violate the national and human rights of the Palestinian people, particularly the Palestinian citizens in Israel as well as Palestinians in occupied Palestine who are subjected to Israel's prolonged colonial occupation, annexation, and apartheid policies.


1. Does the new Israeli government represent the most extreme right-wing stance in the history of Israel?

Regarding Palestine, successive Israeli administrations have never implemented any policy consistent with international humanitarian law, human rights charter, or UN resolutions. In stark contrast, all Israeli governments have been involved in confiscating Palestinian property, displacing Palestinians by force, committing war crimes, growing their settlements with a colonial intent, and other offenses and breaches of international law. However, this is the first time an Israeli government has been so unabashedly vocal about its commitment to a colonial ideology without trying to disguise its expansionist intentions and Jewish supremacist approach.


2. What is the composition of the new Israeli government?

The Israeli government is a coalition of parties embodying Zionist extremists and religious fundamentalists. This ranges from Likud, Prime Minister Netanyahu's party, which has actively undermined the peace process since his initial term in office in 1996, to the religious parties, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism, which advocate religious observance in Israel, to the Religious Zionist coalition, which is closely affiliated with terrorist settlers and is relentlessly pushing an annexation agenda. There are many notorious extremists and provocateurs in this coalition, including the new Israeli Minister of National Security[1], Itamar Ben Gvir, who lives in Hebron as an illegal settler, follows the racist ideology of US-born Rabbi Meir Kahane, and has been convicted of supporting terrorism by Israeli courts. Also, ​​Bezalel Smotrich, set to hold various positions of power within the government, including Finance Minister for the first two years, is a notorious racist and extreme right-wing ideologue. Smotrich supports annexing the occupied West Bank, expelling Palestinians, killing Palestinians who throw stones at Israeli occupiers, including children, and suppressing human rights organizations through legal and military measures, including seizing their funds. He is also the co-founder of the right-wing NGO Regavim, which targets Palestinian homes built without Israel's racist permits. Considering, for example, how permissive and tolerant the Israeli system is when Israeli Jews commit violent attacks against Palestinian civilians, it is easy to understand how dangerous radicals like Ben Gvir and Smotrich are, particularly when in leadership positions.


3. Can the new government further deteriorate the situation in occupied Palestine?

Despite previous Israeli governments' commitment to building settlements and enforcing apartheid, the international community has yet to take significant steps to enforce international law and UN resolutions. The new government in Israel aims to set in stone, and in a very cohesive way, this apartheid regime at all levels: legislative, executive, and judicial. Consequently, the situation on the ground is likely to deteriorate further. There will be more confiscations of Palestinian property, home demolitions, infrastructure destruction, killings, arrests, and revocations of residency rights from Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem. This government also intends to proceed with previous Israeli plans to consolidate further its colonial project in the Palestinian city of Hebron and forcibly transfer and displace more Palestinians from their homes, including in Masafer Yatta in Hebron and Bedouin communities and villages on the eastern gateway of Jerusalem; the part connecting the northern and southern West Bank to occupied Jerusalem and is pivotal for the realization of an independent, contiguous, and sovereign State of Palestine.


4. Are colonial-settlement activities likely to increase under this government?

Successive Israeli governments have supported colonial settlement expansion for decades. However, based on the Jewish Nation-State Law of 2018, this Israeli government has affirmed that self-determination is an exclusive right to the Jewish people not only in the State of Israel but in all of the territory that Israel controls, including the occupied West Bank. Thus, the new coalition government reached agreements to strengthen its colonial settlement project, including legalizing and rehabilitating illegal colonial installations (outposts) by providing them with electricity and water. They plan to extend funding for the government's settlement division, promote settlement security, and expand Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank over the next five years.


5. Is there any reason to believe that this government will continue the de facto annexation process of occupied Palestinian land?

According to the previous answer, yes. Israeli governments have pursued de facto annexation as a fundamental state policy for decades. And while the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory has been a longstanding goal of every Israeli government, the current government plans to pursue this objective with greater vigor. This new government promotes Jewish-only construction on both sides of the green line, designates the entire land of historic Palestine as an exclusive Jewish right, and promotes colonial-settlement expansion all over it. The new government, which aims to achieve de jure annexation, has implemented immediate measures such as placing its occupation forces under the direct control of the Minister of National Security. In a recent development, for example, Israel's Ministry of Tourism, Haim Katz, pledged to promote tourism in colonial settlements of the occupied West Bank, calling it their "local Tuscany." Suhad Bishara, the Legal Director and Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit at Adalah, said in a recent podcast that the new government has a strategy in place to develop roads in the occupied West Bank and to plant trees in the Oslo-defined Area C to prevent the Palestinian control of the land. This approach is similar to the one used in the Naqab, where land was distributed to Jewish families or individuals to prevent Palestinians from acquiring it. She added that the government is also contemplating making changes to the Disengagement Law to enable the establishment of new settlements in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.


6. How does the new Israeli government plan to strengthen its grip on occupied Jerusalem?

Despite the historical and legal agreements known as the Status Quo, meant to protect the Holy Sites, successive Israeli governments, including the Lapid/Gantz government, have repeatedly violated them. Through deepening its sovereignty in occupied Jerusalem and further violating Palestinian rights, this government is actively targeting various areas in and around the occupied city to alter Jerusalem's Palestinian and Arab character and identity. This has been particularly evident at the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound and other sites of importance to Christians and Muslims, such as the Mount of Olives and Jaffa Gate. The recent acts of desecration against these holy sites in Jerusalem directly result from the extremist Israeli government's declared intention to assert exclusive Jewish rights over all of historic Palestine. Therefore, these attacks, including attempts to alter the Status Quo, should be seen as an implementation of government policy. Furthermore, many of the new policies aimed at the Palestinian citizens of Israel will also significantly impact Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem as Israeli law is imposed on them due to the city's illegal annexation by Israel (see below).

There is a trend of deliberate provocations and incitement of violence against Palestinians by Israel's Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, particularly in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem. Many still remember the image of Ben Gvir displaying a gun in the neighborhood and calling on Israeli occupation forces to shoot Palestinians throwing rocks. Recently, on 21 January 2023, Ben Gvir demanded the immediate demolition and forced eviction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Khan Al-Ahmar – a longstanding plan of the occupying Power. In 2018, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement warning of the imminent risk of demolishing the village, stating that "(...) extensive destruction of property without military necessity and population transfers in an occupied territory constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute."


7. How does the new Israeli government target the Palestinian citizens of Israel?

The policies and actions of successive Israeli governments have been driven by the belief in Jewish supremacy, which is reflected in over 65 discriminatory laws aimed particularly at Palestinian citizens of Israel (and Palestinians elsewhere). One notable example is the Jewish Nation-State Law, which codifies Jewish supremacy and promotes colonial settlements. This racist law was promoted by the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, during his previous mandate.

The new government's policies prioritize the exclusive self-determination of Jewish people but also consider Palestinian citizens of Israel a strategic threat. These policies focus on exclusive Jewish control over as much territory as possible, particularly in Al-Naqab and the Galilee (in addition to the occupied West Bank and Arab Syrian Golan), and lead to practices such as land confiscations, systematic oppression, and discrimination, prohibitions on freedom of expression, delegitimizing the national identity of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, including by banning them the right to wave the Palestinian flag, and allowing violence with impunity for Israeli security forces against them. The new government plans to implement two separate law enforcement systems based on racial identity, which will be under the control of openly racist political leaders, specifically Israel's National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, who has previously advocated for the use of lethal force. The coalition agreement states that Ben Gvir is entitled to review and make changes to open-fire regulations of the police if necessary. Putting these policies into law will make it difficult to challenge and reverse them and will perpetuate Jewish dominance.


8. Are any government coalition members in favor of the two-state solution?

No. The current government coalition in Israel doesn't support the two-state solution, with the leading party, Likud, committed to preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state anywhere in the land of historic Palestine. This coalition does not acknowledge the name Palestine or the need for a peace process. As outlined in their political program, the government's policies promote Jewish supremacy, expansion of colonial settlements, and negation of Palestinian rights:

  • "The Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel."
  • "The government will promote and develop the settlement of all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan and Judea and Samaria" (Biblical name of the occupied West Bank).
  • "The government will work to strengthen the status of Jerusalem" (meaning its illegal annexation).

As a result of assertions such as these, claiming that "the land of Israel" is their exclusive property, promoting settlement expansion, and threatening with vicious efforts to strengthen their grip on occupied Jerusalem, Israel is exacerbating its apartheid and annexation processes.


9.  What punitive measures did the new Israeli government take against the Palestinian leadership in response to its request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Israel's decades-old occupation?

Defending these punitive measures, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said: "The Palestinian Authority is not interested in a solution, nor is it interested in a real improvement of the situation of the Palestinians. (i.e. under Israel's belligerent occupation) All they care about is harming Israel." The announced measures include: diverting funds from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to compensate victims of Palestinian "attacks," offsetting payments made by the PNA to Palestinian prisoners and martyrs and their families in 2022, imposing a freeze on Palestinian construction plans in the Oslo-defined Area C, withholding benefits from individuals who actively oppose Israel through political and legal means, and taking action against organizations in the occupied West Bank that resist oppressive Israeli measures, including legal and political action. It's worth noting that more than one hundred member states of the United Nations General Assembly signed a statement rejecting these punitive measures taken by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, leadership, and civil society. Evidently, in the absence of international action, this Israeli government is committed to exercising sovereignty by force in the occupied West Bank while also taking steps to prevent international efforts that accuse Israel of committing war crimes.


10. What has been the international reaction to the new Israeli government so far? How should the international community respond?

While several members of the international community have expressed variable levels of concern, no action has yet been taken. It was particularly ironic when after the announcement of a political program calling for annexation and apartheid, several western officials welcomed the new Israeli government, offering to cooperate with it while ignoring its ongoing crimes and violations against international law.

The question of Palestine is an international issue. Hence it requires the international community to uphold its responsibilities, particularly now, and hold Israel accountable for its systematic violations of Palestinian rights. It's becoming more and more crucial to have this involvement before we see further deterioration in the reality of apartheid that Israel has created.


[1] New name for the Ministry of Internal Security with expanded powers. The now Ministry of National Security allows the Minister to supervise and command the police and the border police that operate in the occupied West Bank alongside Israel’s military.

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