Netanyahu’s Swearing-In as Israeli Prime Minister Sparks Concerns Among Palestinians and Liberal Israelis

Benjamin Netanyahu is set to be sworn in as Israeli prime minister, marking a personal return to power for the country’s longest-serving premier and the arrival of a new far-right government. The 73-year-old Netanyahu, who previously served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2021, addressed a session of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, before a vote of confidence in the new government was held. If the vote passes, a swearing-in ceremony for Netanyahu and his ministers will follow.

Netanyahu’s win in the November 1 parliamentary elections was expected to bring an end to years of political unrest in Israel, which saw governments fall repeatedly and elections held five times in less than four years. Much of this unrest was caused by political opposition towards Netanyahu himself, who is currently on trial for corruption, an allegation he denies.

However, the formation of the new government has taken weeks of negotiations and the introduction of new legislation to keep his far-right and ultranationalist coalition partners satisfied, as well as his own Likud party. The result is a coalition that has made the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law, its top priority. This reflects the positions of far-right leaders who have been given top posts, such as Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Jewish Power leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have previously expressed support for Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish Israeli man who killed 29 Palestinians in a shooting at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.

Netanyahu to be sworn in as Israel President
Photo credit: Matty STERN/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset was interrupted by hecklers chanting that he was “weak”. In his address, he stated that an end to the ” Arab-Israeli conflict” would be his top priority, as well as stopping Iran’s nuclear program and building up Israel’s military capacity.

The swearing-in of Netanyahu as prime minister has sparked concern among Palestinians and left-wing Israelis, who fear the new far-right government will further erode the rights of Palestinians and deepen the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The international community has also expressed concern over the government’s plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are seen as a major barrier to peace and a violation of international law.

Despite these concerns, it remains to be seen what impact the new government will have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of peace negotiations. However, with Netanyahu’s return to power and the influence of far-right leaders in the new government, it is clear that the challenges facing the region are far from over.

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