The Israeli Knesset recently dissolved itself after one year and two weeks, leading to the fifth Israeli parliamentary election in four years. The two leaders of the Israeli regime – Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid – had managed to sell themselves to the world as leaders of change. The reality for Palestinians living under occupation, however, was a year of increased settler and military assaults, acceleration of forced expulsions, and crackdowns on Palestinian human rights organizations.
According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, reported incidents of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians rose from 360 incidents of “nationalist hate crimes against Palestinians” in 2019, to 650 in 2021. From January to the end of May this year, more than 400 incidents were recorded. This data is inconclusive.
Statements demanding action against illegal settler violence were issued by the Palestinian Authority, European Union leaders, and a handful U.S. lawmakers.
The Bennett-Lapid government, however, decided to ignore the issue. In addition, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has recorded 86 Palestinian casualties due to Israeli action between June 19, 2021 and May 8, 2022. Eighty-two of them were in the West Bank, including Jerusalem. The year prior, during the same time period, 48 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The “change” government also managed to exceed the abuses of the past Netanyahu government regarding settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian property. It put the E1 settlement project back on the docket, refused to enforce an existing ban against settlers accessing the partly-evacuated Homesh settlement outpost (built illegally on Palestinian land North of the village of Burqa, the area is heavily affected by violent settler incursions), and embarked on displacing nearly 1,200 Palestinians living in eight villages in Masafer Yatta. 5,400 acres of land in Area C were seized to create the “Nachal Og” nature reserve near Ariha (Jericho), while in Jerusalem, Palestinians continue to be expelled and replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.
Peace Now has released data showing that, during the Bennett-Lapid government, there was a 26% increase in promotion of illegal settlement expansion plans, a 15% increase in issuing of tenders for settlement construction, and a 62% increase in settlement construction, compared to yearly averages during the Netanyahu years. The outgoing government also oversaw an increase in demolitions of Palestinian property by 35% in the West Bank and 59% in Jerusalem.
Bennet and Lapid entrenched the occupation even further. What ultimately brought down the coalition was its failure to renew an emergency regulation that extends Israeli law to illegal settlers in the West Bank, due to the Netanyahu-led opposition’s decision not to support the government’s efforts to renew it. The November election will likely lead to a similar coalition to that of the past year – a far-right alliance led by Netanyahu – or another election.
This featured entry for the newly released month of June 2022 reviews the short-lived Israeli “change” government. The Chronology offers hundreds of entries relating to Israeli policies of displacing Palestinians.