Israel: coalition agreement between Netanyahu and a tenor of the far right

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Israel: coalition agreement between Netanyahu and a tenor of the extreme right

Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right Israeli lawmaker and leader of the Religious Zionism party, on October 26 in Sderot.

Israel's prime minister-designate signed a coalition agreement on Thursday with a final far-right party, which gets a key position in the West Bank settlement boom, before intensifying talks with ultra-Orthodox parties to form the next government.

Benyamin Netanyahu's right-wing bloc and his ultra-Orthodox and far-right allies won the majority in the November 1 legislative elections (64 seats out of 120), ahead of the camp led by the centrist Yaïr Lapid (54 seats). /p>

Over the past week, Netanyahu's Likud had signed deals with the controversial Itamar Ben Gvir, under which the latter would serve as national security minister, and with Avi Maoz known for his hyper nationalist and anti-LGBTQ positions.

And on Thursday night, Mr. Netanyahu signed an agreement with the leader of a far-right third party, Bezalel Smotrich, under which his party, Religious Zionism will notably obtain the portfolio, in rotation, of Finance and that of Immigration.

He will also obtain functions in the branch of the Ministry of Defense in charge of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel.

More than 475,000 Israelis currently live in settlements in the West Bank, deemed to violate international law, about four times more than when the Oslo Accords were signed in the 1990s without lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Today we reach another historic milestone to establish a Jewish, Zionist and national government which will restore security […] and develop colonization.

— Bezalel Smotrich in a joint statement with Mr. Netanyahu

The latter has yet to come to terms with his allies in the two ultra-Orthodox parties – Shass and Judaism unified Torah – to form the next government.

Under Israeli law, Netanyahu has until December 11 to form a government, but he can also request a 14-day extension.

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