Netanyahu’s Likud party released the new government’s policy guidelines on Wednesday, the first of which is that it will “advance and develop settlement in all parts of the land of Israel — in the Galilee, Negev, Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria” — the Biblical names for the West Bank.
Most of the international community considers Israeli West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has finalized coalition deals with allied parties, their spokespeople said on Wednesday, in final steps towards his political comeback.
Netanyahu, whose bloc of nationalist and religious parties won a clear election victory last month, is expected to swear his new government in on Thursday.
Legislation ratified on Tuesday will ultimately enable the pro-settler Religious Zionism party to take up a post of second minister within the defense ministry, granting it broad authority over expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank – land Palestinians seek for a state.
US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and their revival appears unlikely, with some members of Religious Zionism advocating for the annexation of the West Bank.
Further legislation to be brought to a vote on Wednesday, will grant new powers over police for Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the far-right Jewish Power party, as national security minister.
Netanyahu’s new government — the most religious and racist elected government — is made up of ultra-Orthodox parties, an ultranationalist religious faction and his Likud party.
Netanyahu is returning to power after he was ousted from office last year after serving as prime minister from 2009 to 2021. He will take office while on trial for allegedly accepting bribes, breach of trust and fraud, charges he denies.
Netanyahu’s partners are seeking widespread policy shifts that could alienate large swaths of the Israeli public, raise tensions with the Palestinians, and put the country on a collision course with the United States and American Jewry.
Several of Netanyahu’s key allies, including most of the Religious Zionism party, are ultranationalist and racist West Bank settlers.