That coalition collapsed in June, and Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies secured a clear parliamentary majority in November’s elections.
The country remains deeply divided over Netanyahu, who is on trial for fraud, embezzlement and bribes in three corruption cases. He denies all allegations and says he was the victim of a witch hunt orchestrated by hostile media, police and prosecutors.
Netanyahu now heads a government consisting of a hardline ultranationalist party dominated by West Bank settlers, two ultra-Orthodox parties and his nationalist Likud party. They have endorsed a series of policies and coalition agreements that go far beyond the goals he outlined Thursday and, some say, risk jeopardizing democratic institutions and deepening the conflict with the Palestinians.
Long a hardliner against the Palestinians, Netanyahu is already a strong supporter of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It is expected that under the new government this will only be run at full speed. Netanyahu has created a special ministerial post that gives a hotheaded settler leader sweeping authority over settlement policy. The coalition platform says that “the Jewish people have exclusive and unquestionable rights” over all of Israel and the Palestinian territories and pledges to make settlement expansion a top priority.
These include the legalization of dozens of rogue outposts and a commitment to annex all territory, a move that would extinguish any remaining hopes of Palestinian statehood and provoke fierce international opposition.
Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967 along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – areas the Palestinians aspire to as a future state. Israel has established dozens of Jewish settlements, home to about 500,000 Israelis who live alongside about 2.5 million Palestinians.
Most of the international community views Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal and as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. The United States has already warned the new administration not to take any steps that could further undermine hopes for an independent Palestinian state.
President Joe Biden called Netanyahu his “friend for decades” and said he looked forward to working with him “to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran.” “.
But, Biden warned, the US will “continue to support the two-state solution and oppose policies that endanger its viability or run counter to our common interests and values.”
At home, the new government has alarmed good governance groups with plans to overhaul the legal system – including a proposal that would limit the powers of the independent judiciary by allowing Parliament to overturn Supreme Court rulings. Critics say this will destroy the country’s system of checks and balances and clear the way for the criminal case against Netanyahu to be dropped.
There are also concerns about the rollback of minority and LGBTQ rights. Members of the Religious Zionism Party said they would push for an amendment to the country’s anti-discrimination law that would allow companies and doctors to discriminate against the LGBTQ community based on their religious beliefs.
Several thousand demonstrators waved Israeli and gay rainbow flags in front of the parliament. “We don’t want fascists in the Knesset!” they chanted. Crowds of LGBTQ supporters shouting “Shame!” blocked the entrance to a major intersection and highway in Tel Aviv.
But Netanyahu has promised he will protect minorities and LGBTQ rights. Amir Ohana, a Netanyahu loyalist, was elected the first openly gay speaker of parliament while his partner and their two children looked on from the audience.
On stage, Ohana approached her and promised that the new government would respect everyone. “This Knesset, under the leadership of this speaker, will not hurt you or any child or any other family, period,” he said.
LGBTQ groups welcomed Ohana’s appointment, but feared the new government would use his appointment as a smokescreen to undo the community’s gains in recent years.
Yair Lapid, the outgoing prime minister who is now the leader of the opposition, told parliament he was handing over to the new government “a country in excellent condition, with a strong economy, with improved defense capabilities and strong deterrence, ranked among the best in the world ever.” .”
“Try not to destroy it. We’ll be back soon,” Lapid said.
https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/netanyahu-swears-in-hard-line-government-amid-surge-of-resistance-20221230-p5c9es.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Benjamin Netanyahu vows no-compromise government amid wave of resistance