Netanyahu offers to recognize illegal West Bank outposts amid coalition talks with extremists
Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to recognize illegal Israeli settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank in a meeting with a leader of one of the far-right parties likely to enter into a coalition government with him.
Speaking with Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, Likud party chairman Netanyahu suggested that Israel "take advantage of the opportunity" presented by the recent attack in the illegal Ariel settlement in the West Bank and recognize unauthorised outposts, a Likud source told Haaretz.
Israel’s government has built or authorised settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law since 1967.
Outposts, built by Israeli settlers without government authorisation usually on land seized from private Palestinian owners, have gained recogition from the Israeli government before.
The news comes as Netanyahu is attempting to stitch together a coalition government with his far-right allies to form the next Israeli government. Talks have stalled over key positions in the cabinet, but Netanyahu insisted on Tuesday that "there will be a government shortly," according to the Israeli newspaper.
Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir co-leaders of the extremist Religious Zionism bloc, have publicly demanded control of two key ministries – public security and defence – at the time of a deadly Israeli assault on Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
The government will likely be the most right-wing in Israel's history, and Palestinians fear it could embolden Israeli forces and extremists to act with even more brutality and impunity against them.
Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank since 1967, where it has expanded illegal settlements, detained thousands of Palestinians, and launched countless deadly raids across the Palestinian territories.
This year has already been declared by the United Nations to to be the deadliest for Palestinians since 2005.