Swerving Right

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the formation of a new government this week, which analysts described as the most right-wing cabinet in the history of the Jewish state, the Financial Times reported.

The new government came more than a month after Israel held its fifth election in more than three years, which saw the return of Netanyahu and his Likud party to power: Likud and its far-right allies gained a clear majority, a result that follows a coalition deal between Netanyahu and the parties of Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

According to the deal, Smotrich – a strong supporter of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories – will become finance minister. Smotrich’s Religious Zionism group will also hold a second ministerial post in the defense ministry, which will give him sweeping administrative control of the occupied West Bank.

Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party, meanwhile, will become the new national security minister, and with expanded powers. He remains a divisive figure in Israel and was convicted of the incitement of racism in 2007.

Ben-Gvir has demanded a loosening of the rules governing the use of live fire by Israeli soldiers and lifting restrictions on Jewish prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The site – sacred to both Jews and Muslims – has been a flashpoint in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Another major player is Avi Maoz of the Naom party, who was appointed to a deputy ministerial post responsible for education curricula in secular schools. Maoz has faced criticism over his anti-LGBTQ views.

The incoming government has also proposed steps to limit the independence of the judicial system, including the supreme court.

The new coalition comes as Netanyahu – Israel’s longest-serving prime minister – faces an ongoing corruption trial. While he denies any wrongdoing, analysts suggested that he may try to halt the proceedings or throw out the indictments via legislation.

Some officials and analysts, meanwhile, have expressed concern that the new government could chip away at Israel’s democratic principles.

Netanyahu has vowed that he will maintain the “status quo” but analysts believe that he will be constrained by his coalition partners.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at hello@dailychatter.com.

Copy link