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Incoming Israeli PM will pursue same right-wing agenda, Palestinians warn

THE nationalist leader due to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pursue the same right-wing agenda as his predecessor, Palestinians have warned.

Under a new rocky coalition, 49-year-old Naftali Bennett, who is the former leader of a West Bank settler organisation and an ex-Netanyahu ally, would be the country’s new leader.

On Wednesday, Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party and Mr Bennett declared that they had reached a deal to form a new government to unseat the incumbent Mr Netanyahu as prime minister.

The coalition includes multiple parties from across the political spectrum, including the United Arab List, which broke from the Joint List of mostly Arab parties because the latter ruled out backing any government that was committed to maintaining the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Party leader Mansour Abbas said that he hopes to improve conditions for Palestinian citizens.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) representative Bassem al-Salhi said that Mr Bennett was no better than Mr Netanyahu, adding: “He will make sure to express how extreme he is in the government.”

Sami Abou Shehadeh, leader of the Palestinian nationalist Balad Party, told Al Jazeera that the issue was Israel’s policies.

“What we need is a serious change in Israeli policies, not in the personalities,” he said.

“The situation was very bad before Netanyahu, and as long as Israel insists on its own policies, it will continue to be bad after Netanyahu. This is why we oppose this [new coalition].”

Former PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said that the Netanyahu years still had “built-in systems of racism, extremism, violence and lawlessness, expansionism and annexation.

“His former cohorts will maintain his legacy,” she said.

A 29-year-old government worker in Gaza told Reuters that “there is no difference” between one Israeli leader and another.

Ahmed Rezik said: “They are good or bad for their nation. And when it comes to us, they are all bad, and they all refuse to give the Palestinians their rights and their land.”

Mr Bennett has been a strong advocate of annexing parts of the West Bank that Israel violently captured and occupied in 1967.

But more recently, he has proposed a continuation of the way things are, and even easing some of the conditions for Palestinians.

Mr Abbas said that the coalition agreement includes provisions for freezing demolition of homes built without permits in Palestinian villages and granting official status to Bedouin towns in the Negev Desert.

But 21-year-old Badri Karam from Gaza said: “What will he do when they ask him to vote on launching a new war on Gaza? Will he accept it, being a part of the killing of Palestinians?”

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