(Photo Credit: Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP)
Israel’s designated Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reached a coalition agreement with The Religious Zionism on 1 December. The political party, often described as far-right by western media, will be given control over several important government ministries.
In addition, it will also direct the development of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to The New Arab.
After lengthy negotiations with the leadership of The Religious Zionism, Bezalel Smotrich will be awarded the ministerial position for finance, while another party member will be placed in the defense ministry.
“This is a significant additional step that brings us toward the formation of a right-wing, nationalist government,” Netanyahu said.
Gaining greater control over Palestinian territory was a key demand for the party, which advocated for the construction of illegal settlements.
The agreement is being hailed as a “historic step” that will “grow the settlement enterprise,” according to Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich.
Smotrich, a prominent figure in the Israeli illegal settlement movement, wants to see a notable increase in Israeli construction throughout the occupied Palestinian region of the West Bank.
In 2005, Smotrich was arrested during protests against the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. According to Hebrew media, he was part of a cell of five people who were caught allegedly planning an attack on motorists on the Ayalon Highway with 700 liters of gasoline.
He has also previously incited attacks against Palestinian civilians and once said that teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi “should have been shot.”
Also, Smotrich demanded the de-facto annexation of the West Bank during negotiations to form a new government, according to a report published by Al-Quds news on 9 November.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities ratified plans to construct hundreds of new settler units in the occupied central West Bank, despite pushback from the international and Palestinian communities, according to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC)
PIC reports added that the construction plan includes the establishment of the new settlement, which will have 7,000 units in Bethlehem.
At the end of last month, Israel announced that they are seeking to confiscate 616,000 square meters of West Bank land from Palestinians, violating international law. All Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are deemed illegal.