Blinken warns the next Netanyahu government against establishing new settlements in the West Bank

Blinken warns the next Netanyahu government against establishing new settlements in the West Bank

 US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken promised on Sunday to continue opposing Israeli settlement or annexation of lands in the occupied West Bank, but stressed that he would judge the next government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu according to its actions and not according to its far- right figures.

“We will also continue to be unequivocally opposed to any actions that undermine prospects for a two-state solution, including, but not limited to, settlement expansion or moves toward annexation,” Blinken told J Street, a left-wing pro- Israel lobbying group. in the West Bank or a change in the historical status quo of holy sites, demolutions, evictions, and incitement to violence.”

The right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu, along with his ultra-Orthodox and far-right Jewish allies, won the majority of Knesset seats, winning 64 seats out of 120, following the legislative elections that took place on November 1, which allowed him to start negotiations to form a government.

In this context, on Thursday, Netanyahu signed a coalition agreement with the far-right religious Zionist party, which obtained the official settlement position in the occupied West Bank, before intensifying talks with extremist religious parties to form the next government.

Blinken added, "We will judge the government by the policies it pursues, not on the basis of individual personalities."

However, he made it clear that US President Joe Biden´s administration will work "relentlessly" to preserve a "horizon of hope", no matter how small, for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

About half a million Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank in settlements that most of the international community considers illegal, and among them about 200,000 live in occupied East Jerusalem.

The number of settlers has more than quadrupled since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, which did not lead to a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967.

On the other hand, Blinken said that the Biden administration will stress "basic democratic principles, including respect for the rights of the LGBTQ community and equal justice for all citizens of Israel."

Netanyahu has also signed, as part of his efforts to form a government, an agreement with the "Noam" party, led by anti-gay Knesset member Avi Maoz, granting the latter the position of assistant minister in the next government.

After the elections, Moaz said in a statement to Army Radio, "We will study the judicial possibilities to cancel the gay march."

Netanyahu was quick to confirm that the gay march will continue, contradicting Moaz´s statements.

Last week, Netanyahu signed an alliance agreement with the "Jewish Force" led by Itamar Ben Gvir, giving the latter the internal security portfolio. Ben Gvir is a staunch supporter of settlement.

Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of Israel, as he held the position from 1996 to 1999 and then from 2009 to 2021, and it is likely that he will form a government that will be the most right-wing in the history of the Hebrew state.