Fact Sheet: Meet Israel’s New Government
Foreign Minister and alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. (Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images)
The government’s policies towards the Palestinians
- Because the coalition only has a single vote parliamentary majority and the parties in it have widely differing positions, the government will likely not make any major changes in the status quo of ever-deepening military occupation and de facto annexation of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. A clause that appeared in earlier drafts of the coalition agreement that pledged not to take any unilateral steps that could sabotage peace was removed from the final version, according to press reports.
- According to the coalition agreement, the new government will “significantly advance construction in Jerusalem,” including Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem that violate international law and preclude the possibility of it becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state. According to reports, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope party, assured settler leaders that there will be no freeze in settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank either.
The coalition parties & their policies towards the Palestinians
Yamina (7 Members of the Knesset)
- Led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the far-right Yamina party categorically opposes Palestinian statehood or self-determination in any part of Palestine/Israel and strongly supports Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Proposes annexing 60% of the occupied West Bank where most settlements are located, which would be illegal under international law.
Yesh Atid (17 MKs)
- Led by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who is supposed to become prime minister in 2023 as part of the coalition deal, Yesh Atid nominally supports a two-state solution but wants to keep in place massive so-called settlement “blocs” in the occupied West Bank that divide it into sections and make the creation of contiguous Palestinian state impossible, and refuses to relinquish control of occupied East Jerusalem so it can become the capital of a Palestinian state.
Blue and White (8 MKs)
- Also supports a two-state solution in theory but wants to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank that would make up the geographic heart of any Palestinian state and refuses to allow East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state. Leader Benny Gantz supported Trump’s plan for Palestine/Israel that endorsed in advance Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank when he was part of Netanyahu’s previous government.
Yisrael Beiteinu (7 MKs)
- Party founder and leader Avigdor Lieberman, a settler, is notorious for race-baiting and incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Yisrael Beiteinu also supports a two-state solution in theory but refuses to relinquish control of occupied East Jerusalem and as part of any agreement demands the “transfer” of Palestinian citizens of Israel to the Palestinian state.
Labor (7 MKs)
- While it supports a demilitarized Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution, Labor also wants to keep large settlement blocs that divide Palestinian areas of the West Bank, rendering a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, and refuses to give up control of occupied East Jerusalem.
New Hope (6 MKs)
- Opposes Palestinian statehood or self-determination of any kind, strongly supports Israel’s settlement enterprise and eventual annexation of much of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Meretz (6 MKs)
- Supports a two-state solution with the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
United Arab List / Ra’am (4 MKs)
- A member of the coalition but not part of the government because it doesn’t hold a cabinet post, United Arab List supports a two-state solution and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
In their own words: Notable ministers & the Palestinians
Naftali Bennett (Yamina), Prime Minister (see here for fact sheet on Bennett)
- “Trump’s victory is a tremendous opportunity for Israel to immediately announce its intention to renege on the idea of establishing Palestine in the heart of the country… The era of the Palestinian state is over.”
- “We will be gradually attempting to apply Israeli law on [annexing] Israeli controlled areas of Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank].”
- "I will do everything in my power, forever, to fight against a Palestinian state being founded in the Land of Israel."
- “If we capture terrorists, we need to just kill them… I've already killed a lot of Arabs in my life - and there is no problem with that.”
Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Alternate Prime Minister & Foreign Minister
- "What I want is not a new Middle East, but to be rid of [Arabs] and put a tall fence between us and them… [The important thing] is to maintain a Jewish majority in the Land of Israel.
- "The Palestinians must be brought to an understanding that Jerusalem will always remain under Israeli sovereignty and that there is no point for them in opening negotiations about Jerusalem."
Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Deputy Prime Minister & Defense Minister
- A former general and military chief of staff, Gantz launched his political career with an ad bragging about how many Palestinians he killed in Gaza in the summer of 2014, proudly declaring “parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age.” Over the course of seven weeks, Israeli forces killed more than 2,100 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority (1,462) civilians, including 551 children.
- During the March 2020 election campaign, Gantz said he would not sit in a coalition government that included Arab parties, declaring he would only work with “anyone who is Jewish and Zionist.”
Gideon Sa'ar (New Hope), Deputy Prime Minister & Justice Minister
- “There is no two-state solution; there is at most a two-state slogan.”
- “[Palestinians] are a society programmed for murder."
Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope), Minister of Construction, Ministerial Liaison to the Knesset
- “We will try to apply sovereignty [annex] over the maximum [of the occupied West Bank] that we can at any given moment… It will take time to change people’s awareness but in the end this will penetrate. And then, what seems today like a fairy tale will eventually become political reality, and the reality on the ground.”
Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Finance Minister
- [Palestinian citizens of Israel who pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state] deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe.”
Ayelet Shaked (Yamina), Interior Minister
- “There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality.”
- During the April 2019 election campaign, then-Minister of Justice Shaked released an ad depicting herself as a model in a perfume commercial, spraying herself with a scent labeled “Fascism.” At the end, she declared to the camera: “To me, it smells like democracy.”
- In July 2014, Shaked posted an article on Facebook written by a former Netanyahu advisor referring to Palestinian children as “snakes” and calling for genocide against Palestinians. It read in part: “What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy?... They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”