Palestinian groups have dismissed the change in Israel’s government, saying new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is likely to pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office called the Israeli parliamentary vote on Sunday an “internal Israeli affair” while groups in the besieged enclave of Gaza pledged to keep up their fight for Palestinian rights. Gaza has been under an Israeli air, land and sea blockade since 2007.
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The Palestinian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it was “inaccurate” to call Bennett’s coalition government a “government of change” unless there was a significant shift in its position on the Palestinian right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Bennett, who heads the ultra-nationalist Yamina party and describes himself as “more right-wing” than Netanyahu, has said that the creation of a Palestine state would be “suicide” for Israel. He has also called for the annexation of most of the occupied West Bank.
As prime minister, the millionaire former high-tech entrepreneur leads an unwieldy coalition from the political right, left and centre. Analysts say Bennett’s government will likely avoid sweeping moves on hot-button issues such as policy towards the Palestinians and instead focus on domestic reforms.
“This is an internal Israeli affair,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Abbas. “Our position has always been clear, what we want is a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”
In a statement, the Palestinian foreign ministry posed a host of questions to Bennett’s government. “What is the position of the new government regarding the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital?”
“What is its position of the settlement and annexation processes? What is its position on Jerusalem and respect for the historical and legal situation there? Its position on the signed agreements? Its position on the resolutions of international legitimacy? Its position on the two-state solution and negotiations on the basis of the principle of land for peace?”
In Gaza, Palestinian groups vowed to keep resisting Israel.
“We aren’t counting on any change in the occupation governments, since they are united on the policy of killing Palestinians and confiscating Palestinian rights,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official.
And prior to the Israeli parliament vote, Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas said: “Regardless of the shape of the government in Israel, it will not alter the way we look at the Zionist entity. It is a settler occupier entity that must be resisted by all forms of resistance, foremost of which is armed resistance.”