(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ramallah was not pleased on Thursday with the newly-struck coalition deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi.
The 61-member government, formed Wednesday night just before a midnight deadline, "will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP.
The senior Palestinian official said the right-leaning government will "set its sights" primarily on settlement expansion in the West Bank -- land the Palestinians want for a future state along with the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu informed Rivlin on Wednesday night that he had succeeded in forming a government with an hour and a half left to build a coalition before the clock struck twelve. The prime minister reached an agreement with Bayit Yehudi that will give the party the Education and Diaspora Affairs portfolios for its leader Naftali Bennett. MK Uri Ariel will be agriculture minister and MK Ayelet Shaked justice minister. Bennett succeeded in pressuring Netanyahu to give Shaked the Justice Ministry, because a coalition could not be formed without Bayit Yehudi’s eight Knesset seats. She was originally going to be given the Culture and Sports Ministry.
The Likud tried unsuccessfully to prevent Shaked from entering the security cabinet despite the justice minister automatically being in that influential body by law. The Likud also did not succeed in preventing Shaked from heading the powerful Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
The new government is expected to be sworn in on Monday. Netanyahu said no one should be surprised the process of forming a government succeeded. The prime minister reiterated his desire to expand the coalition beyond its current 61 MKs.
Palestinians reacted with pessimism to the news of the formation of the new coalition government in Israel, saying it was against peace and stability.
Meanwhile Thursday, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president’s office, said that the new government must choose between peace and settlements.
Abu Rudaineh said that Palestinian demands for ending the current stalemate in the peace process were clear: acceptance of the two-state solution and halting settlement construction and the “policy of aggression and arbitrary violations against our people.”
He said that the “State of Palestine” would pursue its efforts to join international conventions and treaties in order to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians. The Palestinians are also planning to proceed with their campaign to file war crime charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court, he added.
Abu Rudaineh described the new Likud-led coalition as a right-wing settler-dominated government.
The PLO’s negotiations department said in a statement that the new “right-wing extremist government is not a partner for peace when the leaders call for the annexation of Palestinian land and the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population and the genocide against our people.”
The statement said that the time is well overdue for the international community to face the reality and hold Israel accountable for the “crimes and violations against our people.”
The PLO accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “vehemently leading the charge to bury the two-state solution and impose a perpetual Apartheid regime.”
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh predicted the new government would increase its “settlement activities and the Judaization of the West Bank, while at the same time isolating the Gaza Strip.”
He said that the Palestinians should respond to the new government by ending their divisions, escalating popular resistance and “exposing Netanyahu’s racist policies before the international community.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), one of the factions of the PLO, said that the new government would be more hostile to Palestinians and their rights. It said it does not rule out the possibility that the new government would launch another war on the Gaza Strip.
Another PLO faction, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said that the new coalition was the most extremist government. “This is a government of settlers,” the group said.
Hamas leaders also denounced the new coalition, dubbing it a “racist and extremist” government. “The Netanyahu government will continue its crimes of settlements and Judaization against our people” said Hamas leader Izzat al-Risheq. Terms - Privacy Last account activity: 0 minutes ago Currently being used in 1 other location Details
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