Israel New Gov’t Not for Peace: Analysts

Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unlikely to pursue a comprehensive solution in the peace process with the Palestinians and will lead a government more into settlement expansion than concessions for peace, analysts believe.

"Nothing is going to happen," Akiva Eldar, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, said on Wednesday, April 1.

"Netanyahu has no intention to proceed from where the previous government left off."

Netanyahu on Wednesday morning began the first day at office, hours after he was sworn in at a late night parliamentary session as the head of a new right-leaning government.

Analysts believe that Netanyahu will be on the track everyone predicts when it comes to the peace process.

Netanyahu has never supported the creation of a Palestinian state, a principle which Israel agreed to under the 2003 international roadmap.

The Likud party chief, who put the brakes on the Oslo autonomy accords during his first term as premier in 1996-1999, says economy should be improved in the occupied West Bank before negotiations take place on other issues.

Addressing the Knesset before a six-hour debate on the new government, Netanyahu, made no specific mention, however, of Palestinian statehood, an important Palestinian demand that is supported by the US and other parties involved in mediating between the two sides.

The Palestinian Authority described Netanyahu’s remarks as "not encouraging".

"The American administration should pressure the Netanyahu government to stick to the fundamentals of the peace process, in other words land for peace," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

But experts fear that pressure is not a game to play with the new government.

"Nobody can really pressure Israel to do anything," Efraim Inbar, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, told the New York Times.

The international community has expressed alarm over the future of already stalled peace talks with the Palestinians re-launched in November 2007.

The European Union last week warned of "consequences" if the new Israeli government does not commit itself to the principle of the two-state solution.


Furthermore, experts affirm the new government is to make settlement expansion flourish in the occupied territories. 

"The new government is very clearly one that is for the settlements," Samir Awad, a political science professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, told Reuters.

It is "for increasing the roadblocks, and for ending the project of building a Palestinian state once and for all."

Palestinian president echoed the same fears.

"Benjamin Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious," Abbas told the official Palestinian news agency.

Netanyahu’s coalition is dominated by right-wing and religious parties that largely pursue the spread of illegal Jewish outposts on Palestinian lands.

Israel army radio disclosed last week that Netanyahu has struck a secret deal with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, one of his coalition partners, pledging to expand settlements in a highly-contentious area of the West Bank

According to the plan, some 3,000 housing units are to be constructed in the so-called E1 Sector in the occupied West Bank which runs between annexed east Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim settlement.

The international community considers all Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land illegal.

Since 1967, Israel has built more than 164 Jewish-only settlements on the occupied West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied territory and inhabited by as many as half a million settlers.

Most of the settlers are classified as "ideological settlers," who believe that the West Bank is the "Biblical Land of Israel" which must never be given up even in return for a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

( and newspapers)

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