Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s chosen prime minister, announced a coalition agreement on Thursday that will give a hardline, pro-settlement party control over several important government ministries and a key position in directing the development of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
In his efforts to put together a coalition government after the elections on November 1, Netanyahu’s deal with the Religious Zionism party represented a significant victory.
However, it might also pave the way for conflict with essential allies, most notably the United States.
Religious Zionism, according to Netanyahu’s Likud Party, will share control of the Finance Ministry, run the government ministry in charge of immigration, lead a new ministry of “national missions,” and have a party member oversee settlement building in the occupied West Bank under the direction of Netanyahu in the Defense Ministry.
According to Netanyahu, “this is a critical further step that brings us closer to the formation of a right-wing, nationalist administration.”
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 West Bank settlement movement, wants to see a dramatic increase in the building of Jewish homes in the areas that the Palestinians currently occupy and want for their future state.
Most nations, including the United States, consider settlement construction unlawful or unjustified.
In the parliamentary elections held on November 1, Netanyahu and his hardline supporters won a majority of seats, putting him in a position to form a new government.
He has agreements with two other hardline allies that give them control over Israel’s national police force and put a lawmaker in charge of “Jewish identity,” who is notorious for his anti-LGBTQ sentiments and insulting remarks about non-Orthodox Jews.