Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday presented his unity government before parliament, putting an end to more than a year of political paralysis with a renewed pledge to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank.
“It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorified chapter in the history of Zionism,” said Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-ruling premier.
The leader of the right-wing Likud party has repeatedly promised to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory if elected.
That ambition has been countered by international opposition and a year and a half of political deadlock, with three consecutive elections failing to result in a majority government.
After three general elections and an unprecedented deadlock, all within the course of one year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz signed a government coalition agreement on April 20.
Under the agreement, Netanyahu will continue as premier for 18 months before handing over the reins to Gantz for the next 18 months. Gantz will start out as a defense minister.
With 36 ministers, the cabinet will be Israel’s largest in history. Their blocs will also have a similar number of ministers and virtual veto power over the other’s major decisions.
“The people wanted unity, and that is what it got,” Netanyahu told parliament on Sunday.
Speaking on the contentious planned annexation of parts of the West Bank, the Israeli premier claimed the move would “distance us from peace, it will bring us closer”.
Under international law, Jewish settlements constructed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories constitute a violation of international law and are considered illegal.
“There is one positive aspect of Israel’s unpromising government coalition, and that is clarity,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud, wrote in a recent article.
“Knowing of Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian, anti-peace, and anti-international law long legacy, we should have all the clarity needed to understand that no just peace can possibly be achieved when Netanyahu is still at the helm,” Baroud added.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle