Some see promise in the fact the coalition includes an Arab party. In reality, peace with the Palestinians is further away than ever
In his speech to the Knesset as incoming prime minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett had very little to say about his country’s biggest challenge, making peace with the Palestinians. It was as though by giving them only the briefest of mentions, the Palestinians, the nation that has lived under Israeli occupation for the past 54 years, would be obliterated out of existence. Instead he said he would “strengthen the building of communities across the land of Israel”, a statement clearly intended to include settlements in the occupied West Bank. Yet this was not the only violation of international law that appeared in the speech. In a clear rejection of the Oslo accords signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 and 1995, he brazenly promised to “ensure Israel’s national interests in Area C”. This comprises some 60% of the area of the West Bank occupied by Israel in 1967, which according to those accords was to be handed back to the Palestinians.
Many commentators found hope in the fact that the new coalition includes an Arab party. Yet to the dismay of most liberal Palestinians in Israel, the United Arab List is a conservative religious party that opposes individual freedoms, including women’s and LGBTQ+ rights. By joining the coalition government this party has been willing to forgo the struggle for Palestinian national rights in return for winning some civic benefits for the Palestinians in Israel, such as better policing of Arab towns.