Netanyahu’s Incoming Israeli Government Makes West Bank Settlement Expansion a Top Priority

The new government will be sworn in on Thursday

Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new hardline government released a policy paper on Wednesday that puts the expansion of West Bank settlements as a top priority.

The new government is set to be sworn in on Thursday and is made up of a coalition of Netanyahu’s Likud party and ultranationalist parties, and some members are settlers themselves. In the paper, the coalition said that it promises to “advance and develop” settlements in all parts of Israel, including “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical name for the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu wrote something similar on Twitter, declaring that the “Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel” and that his government will “promote and develop settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea, and Samaria.”

According to The Associated Press, as part of the coalition agreement, Netanyahu also promised to annex the West Bank “while choosing the timing and considering the national and international interests of the state of Israel.”

Under the coalition deal, Bezalel Smotrich, an extremist settler who leads the Religious Zionist Party, will be given vast powers over the West Bank. He has been appointed as Finance Minister but is receiving a second post in a new minister position in the Defense Ministry.

From his position in the Defense Ministry, Smotrich is expected to have power over approving new settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures. In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal this week, Smotrich insisted there would be no “changing the political or legal status” of the West Bank, but he has long called for the annexation of the entire territory.

Netanyahu claimed in a recent interview that major decisions when it comes to the West Bank will be up to him and his defense minister, Yoav Galant, a Likud member and former general. But even if the decisions are up to Netanyahu, settlements are likely to expand rapidly as his previous government advanced plans for a record number of new settlements in 2020.

The expansion of settlements in the West Bank will be viewed by the Palestinians as the speeding up of de facto annexation, which will increase tensions in the occupied territory. The UN has said that 2022 has been one of the deadliest years for Palestinians in the West Bank since they began tracking casualties in 2005, and the violence is expected to rise with the new hardline Israeli government.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.