Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Thursday mostly dismissed a change in Israeli cabinet, saying the nationalist leader slated to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely pursue the same right-wing agenda.
Naftali Bennett, a former official in Israel’s main West Bank settler organisation, would be Israel’s new leader under a patchwork coalition struck on Wednesday.
29-year-old Ahmed Rezik, a government worker in Gaza, said “there is no difference between one Israeli leader and another.”
“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.”
Bennett is no less extreme than Netanyahu, said Bassem Al-Salhi, a representative for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), adding “he will make sure to express how extreme he is in the government.”
Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, said it made no difference who governs Israel.
Spokesman Hazem Qassem said “Palestinians have seen dozens of Israeli governments throughout history, right, left, center, as they call it. But all of them have been hostile when it comes to the rights of our Palestinian people and they all had hostile policies of expansionism.”
In what would be a first in Israel, a governing coalition would include an Islamist party elected by members of Israel’s 21% Arab minority, who are Palestinian by culture and heritage and Israeli by citizenship.