Jue. Feb 9th, 2023

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party has signed its first coalition agreement with Itamar Ben-Gvir’s far-right Jewish Power party, Likud said in a statement on Friday.

The agreement, which does not provide for a complete and final new government in Israel, gives Ben-Gvir the police ministry and a seat in the security cabinet.

«We took a big step tonight towards a full coalition agreement, towards the formation of a fully right-wing government,» Ben-Gvir said in the statement.

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir shows his ballot paper during Israeli elections earlier this month. Tsafrir Abayov/AP

Netanyahu’s Likud and its far-right and religious allies scored a clear victory in Israel’s Nov. 1 election, ending nearly four years of political instability. However, his efforts to quickly form a government have run into obstacles as negotiations with coalition partners drag on.

The incoming government appears to be the most right-wing in Israeli history, forcing Netanyahu to perform a diplomatic balancing act between his coalition and Western allies.

Ben-Gvir’s record includes a 2007 conviction for inciting anti-Arab racism and supporting terrorism, as well as anti-LGBT activism. He says that he no longer advocates the expulsion of all Palestinians, only those whom he considers traitors or terrorists.

A settler living in the West Bank, which Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war, Ben-Gvir opposes Palestinian statehood. He also supports Jewish prayer at a holy site in Jerusalem that houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and is a remnant of ancient Jewish temples.

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