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Palestinians leery of new Israeli government

PA says Israel’s policies may prove ‘even worse’ with Bennett at helm, while Hamas says any Israeli government ‘must be resisted by all forms of resistance’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2019. (Wafa news agency)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the PA headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2019. (Wafa news agency)

Officials in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas terror group issued muted responses to the news of the new governing coalition in Israel, which ousted Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in office.

In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry said it expected to see few changes in Israeli policy toward the Palestinians under new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s fragile eight-party coalition.

“This time, a government without Netanyahu was formed in Israel. However, it is inaccurate to call it a ‘government of change,’ unless one means to say that Netanyahu is no longer there,” read the PA Foreign Ministry statement. “As for [the new government’s] policies, we estimate that we will see no difference, or perhaps even worse ones.”

On Monday Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Netanyahu’s departure closed the chapter on one of the “worst periods” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But Shtayyeh also said he was under no illusions about the new government or its likelihood of advancing a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas said it would continue to battle against the Israeli government in any form.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Islamic terror group, said that any Israeli government is “a settler occupier entity that must be resisted by all forms of resistance, foremost of which is the armed resistance.”

Barhoum said that “the behavior of this government on the ground will determine the way and nature of dealing with it on the ground.”

Incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, June 13, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war last month, dubbed Operation Guardian of the Walls, which began on May 10, when Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem in response to clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has long had an antagonistic relationship with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with peace talks effectively stalled for the past decade. Netanyahu was considered closely aligned with former president Donald Trump, whom the Palestinians saw as biased toward Israel and against the Palestinians.

But Bennett, a former chairman of the Yesha settlers council, is not seen as a friendlier face by the Palestinians. Bennett has long vowed to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and has used inflammatory language in the past when talking about Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Bennett once said that he had “killed many Arabs in my life and there’s nothing wrong with that,” although a top adviser suggested recently that he had evolved beyond such incendiary rhetoric.

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