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Palestinian Authority, Hamas skeptical about new Israeli government

Palestinians planning a Day of Rage if the Flag Parade passes through Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Flash90)

While former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be missed in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah and the Gaza-ruling terrorist group, Hamas, expressed skepticism about the new Israeli government.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office on Sunday after forming a new government that ousted Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister Netanyahu from power after 12 consecutive years in office. 

PA officials fear that the new administration will be even more hardline than the Netanyahu government.

On the other hand, the PA’s Foreign Ministry in Ramallah said it did not expect any substantial changes in Israeli policy towards the Palestinian Arabs under Bennett who is leading a diverse coalition consisting of eight vastly different parties ranging from left-wing and Islamist to center and right-wing. 

“This time, a government without Netanyahu was formed in Israel. However, it is inaccurate to call it a ‘government of change,’ unless one means to say that Netanyahu is no longer there. As for [the new government’s] policies, we estimate that we will see no difference, or perhaps even worse ones,” the Foreign Ministry said

The PA’s pessimism stems from the fact that on the political scale, Bennett and his senior coalition partner Gideon Sa’ar are even further to the right than Netanyahu. In addition, Bennett and Sa’ar openly oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state and Bennett is personally affiliated with the Jewish settler movement through his former tenure as the chairman for the Yesha settler Council. 

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, the ruling Islamist terrorist organization, Hamas, declared that it would continue fighting against the new Israeli government in Jerusalem with all available means. 

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, stressed that any Israeli government is “a settler occupier entity that must be resisted by all forms of resistance, foremost of which is the armed resistance.”

Barhoum added that “the behavior of this government on the ground will determine the way and nature of dealing with it on the ground.”

While the international community advocates a two-state solution to the protracted Arab-Israeli conflict, Hamas openly rejects the existence of the Jewish state within any borders. In practice, this means that Hamas views Jews in the Israeli commercial metropolis, Tel Aviv, as no less “settlers” than Jewish communities in the West Bank.

In May, Hamas and Israel fought a war for 11 days where Hamas and its partner Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel responded by bombing numerous military targets throughout the Gaza Strip. During the conflict with Hamas and during the recent Arab-Jewish riots inside Israel, Bennett openly criticized Netanyahu for not responding more forcefully against Hamas and Arab Israeli radicals. While also opposing violence by Jewish Israeli radicals, Bennett clearly blamed the Arab side for the violence in May. 

U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders congratulated Bennett and his new administration on Sunday. 

"On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet," declared Biden in a statement released merely minutes after the Bennett government has been sworn in. 

Biden stressed the close relations between America and Israel. 

"Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation." The American president stressed that Washington "remains unwavering in its support for Israel's security." 

Biden also expressed a commitment to work towards peace between Israel and the PA, as well as broadening the circle of regional peace between the Jewish state and the wide Arab world. 

"My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region."

While the Bennett administration is fragile and diverse, it will be tested from the very start of its existence. A Day of Rage has been declared by the Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and in mixed Arab-Jewish cities throughout Israel in protest against the upcoming Israeli right-wing flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warned on Sunday of an “explosion” if the controversial far-right Israeli flag march known as the Flag Parade goes ahead and passes through the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

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