Palestinian Israeli conflict

West Bank settlements top priority: Netanyahu government

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming hard-line government has put West Bank settlement expansion at the top of its list of priorities a day before it’s set to be sworn into office.

Netanyahu’s Likud party released the new government’s policy guidelines on Wednesday, the first of which is that it will “advance and develop settlement in all parts of the land of Israel — in the Galilee, Negev, Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria” — the Biblical names for the West Bank.

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Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s new government — the most religious and hard-line in Israel’s history — is made up of ultra-Orthodox parties, an ultranationalist religious faction and his Likud party. It is to be sworn in on Thursday.

Netanyahu is returning to power after he was ousted from office last year after serving as prime minister from 2009 to 2021. He will take office while on trial for allegedly accepting bribes, breach of trust and fraud, charges he denies.

Netanyahu’s partners are seeking widespread policy reforms that could alienate large swaths of the Israeli public, raise tensions with the Palestinians, and put the country on a collision course with the United States and American Jewry.

Several of Netanyahu’s key allies, including most of the Religious Zionism party, are ultranationalist West Bank settlers.

Read more: Exclusive - The Netanyahu Doctrine: An in-depth regional policy interview

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