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All the same, new or old Netanyahu: Palestinians see little difference in old and new Israeli leaders

With no surprises, Bennett placed much of the blame for the conflict on the Palestinians.

Israeli politician Naftali Bennett, leader of the right wing 'New Right' party, greets his supporters after first exit poll results for the Israeli Parliamentary election at his party's headquarters in Petah Tikva, Israel, Wednesday, March. 24, 2021. Bennett's Yamina emerged as a possible kingmaker according to exit polls. Bennett has not committed to either the pro-Netanyahu or anti-Netanyahu camps, meaning he could play a key role in choosing the next prime minister. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Stranded in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians brushed off the apparent change in the Israeli government since they believe that the faces might change but policies will remain similar as the nationalist leader due to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely pursue the same right-wing agenda.

Naftali Bennet, a former head of Israel’s main West Bank settler organization, would be the country’s new leader under a patchwork coalition struck on Wednesday.

With no surprises, Bennett placed much of the blame for the conflict on the Palestinians, Thursday.

“The truth must be told: The national struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not over territory. The Palestinians do not recognize our very existence here, and it would appear that this will be the case for some time.”

He told Israel’s Channel 12 TV station.

Speaking before Bennett’s latest remarks Bassem Al-Salhi, a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said the prime minister designate was no less extreme than Netanyahu, adding: “He will make sure to express how extreme he is in the government.”

Similar sentiments were voiced elsewhere. “There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another,” said Ahmed Rezik, 29, a government worker in Gaza.

“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.”

It makes no difference who govern Israel, says Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip.

“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.”

Spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

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.

Its leader, Mansour Abbad, said the coalition agreement would bring more than 53 billion shekels ($16 billion) to improve infrastructure and combat violent crime in Arab towns. But he has been criticised in the West Bank and Gaza for siding with what they see as the enemy.

“He is a traitor. 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?”

Said Badri Karam, 21, in Gaza.

Bennett, who is a strong advocate of annexing parts of the West Bank that Israel captured and occupied in a 1967 war, remarked in his first public appearance that he will ease some of the conditions for Palestinians while appearing to propose a continuation of the status quo.

“My thinking in this context is to shrink the conflict. We will not resolve it. But wherever we can (improve conditions) – more crossing points, more quality of life, more business, more industry – we will do so.”

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