Ramallah blasts new Netanyahu government as ‘against peace’

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says right-wing coalition ‘will set its sights on killing, and reinforcing settlement activities’

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (YouTube screen capture)
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (YouTube screen capture)

The new right-wing religious coalition government formed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be belligerent and will work against peace, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.

The government “will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

“This government will set its sights on killing, and reinforcing settlement activities,” he said of Israel’s ongoing construction on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

His remarks came after Netanyahu managed to hammer together a coalition just ahead of a midnight deadline, giving him a knife-edge majority of just one seat in parliament.

Aside from ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and UTJ, the hawkish Likud party will be joined in the government by nationalist faction Jewish Home, which is a strong proponent of expanded settlement building.

The freshman Kulanu party, a centrist faction focusing on bread and butter economic issues, will also be in the coalition.

The previous coalition contained the dovish Yesh Atid and Hatnua factions, which will now sit in the opposition.

Palestinian officials previously expressed unhappiness with Netanyahu’s win in the March 17 national election. In the run-up to the election, Netanyahu made a statement taking Palestinian statehood off the table, angering Palestinians and the US. He later backtracked.

Abbas said shortly after the vote that the election results would not sway the Palestinian Authority from continuing diplomatic efforts to achieve international recognition.

“Netanyahu’s declarations against a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state, if they are correct, prove the Israeli government has no serious intention to reach a diplomatic solution,” Abbas was quoted as saying during a PLO cabinet meeting on March 19.

Ahead of the vote, Abbas said he would treat whoever won the election as a peace partner.

Erekat told Palestinian radio in March that Netanyahu’s win was a barrier to peace. “It is now very clear that there is no Israeli partner,” he said.

Erekat further stated then that the Palestinians would intensify efforts to bring Israel to trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Israeli news site Walla reported.

Erekat compared Netanyahu to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during an interview on Palestinian television last month, saying that al-Baghdadi “claims he is the head of the Islamic State, while Netanyahu claims he is the head of the Jewish State.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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