Analysts say the policy aims spelt out by Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition government make it clearer that it's eventual goal is the erasure of Palestinian society.

Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely regarded as the most right-wing in the country’s history, causing serious concern for Palestinians, who fear a deepening of discriminatory policies that could trigger a new wave of violence.

A day before his coalition government was sworn-in on December 29, Netanyahu published his administration’s guiding principles and coalition agreements, which prioritise the expansion of illegal settlements.

Analysts say those policy aims make it clearer that it’s eventual goal is the erasure of Palestinian society.

The government’s stance on its Palestinian population presented in the documents is not entirely new, however. Historically and ideologically, Israel's major political parties have never been far apart when it comes to the treatment of Palestinians.

As Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy points out, not much has changed between Israel’s newly-elected government and previous administrations. He says there has never been any intention among the country’s ruling political establishment “to put an end to the occupation.”

“They all don't have in mind to give the Palestinians civil rights. And that's basic in Israeli politics, unfortunately,” Levy tells TRT World.

“What changes now is not Netanyahu, but his partners who are very, very radical. And I think the rhetoric will be harder and they will take some measures to make the lives of the Palestinians worse, as much as it can get worse.”

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Unprecedented power 

Israel’s new government includes ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties as well as far-right religious factions.

Among Netanyahu’s most controversial moves is his coalition agreements with far-right politicians Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Under the new government, Ben-Gvir now serves as the Minister of National Security.

Ben-Gvir is an Israeli lawyer and the leader of the far-right Jewish Power party (JPP), which has been referred to as anti-Palestinian. He has been convicted for his support of the radical Kach political party, which was banned from the Knesset in the 1980s for “incitement to racism” and declared a terrorist organisation by the Israeli government in 1994.

Ben-Gvir was also known to have a portrait in his home of Israeli-American terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994. He is said to only have removed the portrait after it was reported ahead of the March 2020 election.

The appointment of Smotrich as finance minister also drew sharp criticism.

The leader of the Religious Zionist Party (RZP) supports the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the entire Palestinian territory.

Speaking at a conference of right-wing activists in November, Smotrich said the new government needs to “take action” against human rights groups, calling them an “existential threat to the state of Israel.”

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In his first few days in office, Smotrich signed a decree to block an estimated $39.6 million in tax revenue from the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Fatah-controlled governing body that oversees parts of the occupied West Bank.

The decree ordered that the funds be redirected to “victims of terrorism”, a move seen as a retaliation against the PA’s decision to question the occupation before the International Court of Justice.

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When confronted by reporters that the decision could lead to the collapse of the PA, he replied: “As long as the Palestinian Authority encourages terror and is an enemy, I have no interest for it to continue to exist.”

Under the new Israeli government, far-right politicians like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich are no longer just campaigning for harsher measures against Palestinians, but they now have been given the authority to implement them, analysts said.

“When you find people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich basically in charge, one in the political life of Palestinians and the other in security and law and order, that tells you how much Israel’s whole political establishment is now in an open war fronting against the Palestinians,” academician and human rights activist Sami Al Arian tells TRT World.

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Human rights organisation Adalah, a legal justice centre advocating for the rights of Palestinians, recently released an analysis of Netanyahu’s government policies.

The rights group concludes that the new Israeli government’s policies would further deepen the oppression of Palestinians in all the territories.

As part of Netanyahu’s deal with his allies, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Police Ordinance, making the police subordinate to the National Security Minister.

The National Security Minister has also been granted full control over the Israel Border Police.

The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, known as Shabak, has also been designated to handle “nationalistic-motivated crime among the Arab society in Israel”.

“Such drastic changes are certain to heighten police violence and negative attitudes toward Palestinian citizens of Israel in particular," given the history of "excessive violence" and "racist rhetoric" employed by Israeli authorities, Adalah states.

Adalah also warns against the new government's plan to revise mandatory minimum sentences that targets Palestinian offenders, as well as the counter-terror laws, which could further criminalise legitimate political action.

Some of the most concerning Israeli measures also include the expansion of power to revoke the residency and citizenship of Palestinians, accelerate the development of Jewish settlements in the Negev and the Galilee and expand impunity for Israeli armed forces accused of killing Palestinians.

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More polarisation and resistance

“If they implement all these, all they're doing is just inviting more polarisation, more anger and more confrontation and resistance,” says Al Arian, director of the Centre for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul Zaim University.

“The traditional Palestinian factions, Fatah, Hamas, Jihad, Popular Front, are no longer the only players,” Al Arian says.

“Now we're seeing the Lions' Den and other groups, like Katibat Jenin, that have been formed and the Israelis are finding this very difficult because they no longer can infiltrate or know the address of who's coming next..”

A potentially weakened Palestinian Authority under the new Israeli government could then put these growing resistance movements in direct confrontation with Israeli forces, Al Arian warns.

Perhaps most polarising of all is the first sentence in the new government’s guidelines, which states that "The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel".

That clause expands on the language enshrined in the 2018 Jewish National State Law, which had confined that right to the current official territory of the State of Israel.

Jewish religious belief defines the Land of Israel as the entire territory of the Holy Land, which would at least include the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and Gaza, if not also some other areas of the southern Levant.

'The final goal'

“The final goal is to try to get rid of as many Palestinians as possible. But that's in the very long run and nobody would admit it, but that's the subtext - to annex practically more and more land and to give them less and less land,” Levy tells TRT World.

Al Arian says the world will have a hard time accepting the rhetoric of Israel’s new government.

“This status quo cannot continue… We can see today that much of the support that Israel used to get even from liberal groups, they're starting to distance themselves because what they see today is a very regressive, very racist discourse,” he says.

Whether Israel’s status quo towards the Palestinians will continue very much depends, of course, on the international community’s willingness to challenge it in the political arena.

“Right now, in the short term, the picture looks bleak because the Palestinians are divided and because the Arab world is not united in any way, shape or form,” Al Arian says.

READ MORE: Expanding illegal West Bank settlements is Netanyahu's govt top priority

Source: TRT World