Netanyahu announces deal for Israel’s extreme right-wing government
“Bibi” makes the announcement just shy of the deadline. Smotrich gets Finance with the supervision of settlements. Ben Gvir becomes minister of National Security, with control over police (and al-Aqsa). Shas leader Aryeh Deri is set to take over Interior and Health despite the Attorney General’s ban.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Prime Minister-designate Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu took to social media last night to announce that he had formed Israel’s newest government.
“I got it,” he tweeted minutes before a midnight deadline set by President Isaac Herzog to put together his cabinet, his sixth term of office.
The new government will be the most right-wing in the country’s history and has already raised major concerns, not only among Palestinians, but also in Western governments and left-wing intellectuals.
President Herzog's office confirmed shortly afterwards that it had received the note from the prime minister-designate, who successfully concluded the process to form a government.
Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, between 1996 and 1999, and again from 2009 to 2021.
His right-wing Likud party, far right Zionist religious parties and ultra-Orthodox parties can count on a majority in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) of 64 seats out of a total of 120.
“Thanks to the enormous public support we received in the last elections, I was able to establish a government that will work for the benefit of all Israeli citizens,” said Netanyahu
All the parties in the coalition government reject the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the internationally backed peace project that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank (and Gaza) alongside Israel. With Jerusalem as a shared capital.
Instead, Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Religious Zionist party, who, in alliance with two other far-right parties, won the third-largest number of seats, wants Israel to annex the West Bank and now has broad powers over settlements in the West Bank.
In addition to Smotrich, Itmar Ben Gvir, leader of the Jewish Power Party, will also take on a prominent role in the new government.
Smotrich, an avowed homophobe and settler activist, will serve as finance minister with overseeing authority over West Bank settlements. From this position, he will be able to deliver building permits in settlements, demolish Palestinian homes, and manage land issues. He will also oversee the two military units tasked with running civil and security affairs in the territory.
Ben Gvir, convicted in the past of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organisation, will serve as national security minister, overseeing police and security forces in charge of security and access to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In addition, Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBT Noam party, will be deputy minister responsible for "Jewish identity” with control over parts of the country’s education system. He is a proponent of gay conversion therapy, opposes letting women serve in the military, and proposes to turn the chief rabbinate into the "fourth branch of government".
Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, has been promised the Interior and Health portfolios, despite the fact that Israel’s Attorney General said that he cannot serve in the cabinet because of past convictions for tax offences.
One of the changes the new government plans is to give the Knesset the power to overrule veto on Supreme Court decisions, as well as legal reforms that could end Netanyahu’s ongoing trial on corruption charges, which he denies.
The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in on 2 January 2023.