The Israeli parliament has taken the oath Benjamin Netanyahu as the new prime minister, inaugurating the most far-right, religiously conservative government in the country’s history, leaving Palestinians concerned about what comes next.

The year 2022 was already the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, when Israel launched almost daily military raids and bombed the Gaza Strip for three days in August.

Those actions were taken by a “centrist” Israeli government, leading many Palestinians to question whether there really was a difference between the policies of the various governments towards them in recent years.

Yet the inclusion of far-right figures in government previously seen as too extreme even for Israeli politics has sparked fear in some and expectations that a new round of violence is on the horizon.

And the new government’s top priority — an expansion of settlements in the West Bank — and a statement that “the Jewish people have the exclusive right to all land” between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean have only reinforced that.

Al Jazeera spoke to Palestinians in the West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip to hear their views.

Reham Odeh, Political Analyst, Gaza

“When we look at the members of the government, among them we see extremists and settlers who are constantly calling for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, including Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, which is why there is more of a expectation of a return to scenes of violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” Odeh said.

The political analyst believes this will be especially true if the Netanyahu administration goes ahead with its plans to expand settlements and possibly annex Palestinian land.

“[That] will stop any chance of a future solution, or Palestinian efforts to realize the dream of a Palestinian state, including the two-state solution.”

As for Gaza, and despite what Odeh calls Netanyahu’s past “bloody policies” toward the area, the political analyst doesn’t expect another war anytime soon, with the new prime minister focusing instead on the policies he has already emphasized, namely the expansion of settlements, the strengthening of normalization ties with Arab countries and the management of the Iran dossier.

Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman, Gaza

Netanyahu’s stated policy means we will face great tensions, and this opens up the possibility of [another] confrontation for us,” Qassem told Al Jazeera. “There is a tendency to escalate violence against Palestinian prisoners and add more restrictions to their living conditions, and there is a tendency to implement restrictive policies near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. [in occupied East Jerusalem]in addition to expanding settlements.”

Qassem warned that this would lead to a possible “explosion” in the region.

He said Palestinian armed groups “will not stand idly by in the face of any expansion of aggressive policies towards the Palestinian people and transgressions when it comes to red lines such as Jerusalem and Palestinian prisoners,” adding that Hamas was “ready to support its people.” to defend”.

“We must adopt a united Palestinian policy to defend the rights of the Palestinian people and advance the Palestinian reconciliation dossier,” Qassem said, emphasizing the importance of unity between Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza.

Azzam Abu al-Adass, political analyst, Nablus

For Abu al-Adass, the Netanyahu government poses a threat not only to the Palestinians, but also to left-wing and secular Israelis.

“The current administration believes its performance will come at the expense of Palestinian blood and the killing of Palestinians,” said Abu al-Adass, before referring to Ben-Gvir’s efforts to relax open-fire rules for Israeli security forces and to withdraw the ban. nationality of Palestinians living in Israel and East Jerusalem.

Regarding Gaza, Abu al-Adass believes another attack is unlikely as it would be “exhausting” for Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu will focus his administration’s escalating efforts on the West Bank, especially with the rise of new popular resistance groupswho have recently strengthened their presence in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin and Nablus,” he said.

“The Israeli media is constantly talking about the development of resistance groups in the West Bank, and this could make it the closest target of the current Netanyahu-led government.”

Ahmed Abu Artema, activist, Gaza

“Our biggest problem is with the Zionist project itself, which is based on expelling our people, occupying their land, committing massacres and practicing racial discrimination, no matter who leads it,” said Abu Artema.

The activist said the most dangerous element of the new government was the “unprecedented sharp tone of hostility” from its members, including Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister and the man who will oversee the management of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

“All these indications lead us to expect that there will be more targeting of Palestinians and the theft of more Palestinian land,” said Abu Artema.

“The only hope is to continue the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation from the Israeli occupation,” he added.



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