Skip to main content

Israel's new government plans to 'Judaise' Galilee and Negev

Economic benefits and discounts will likely be offered to Jews to move into areas with significant Palestinian populations
A protestor waves a Palestinian national flag during a demonstration near the city of Sakhnin in northern Israel, on 5 May 2022 (AFP)
A protester waves a Palestinian national flag during a demonstration near the city of Sakhnin in northern Israel on 5 May 2022 (AFP)

As part of deals struck to form Israel's new government last week, far-right parties and Likud have agreed to enforce a "Judaisation" plan in the Galilee and Naqab (Negev) regions, which have a significant population of indigenous Palestinian citizens.

The Religious Zionism alliance, led by Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, has previously said it intended to strengthen Jewish settlement in the two regions located in northern and southern Israel, respectively. 

This will likely be done through offering economic benefits and discounts to Jews to encourage them to move to those areas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz

The Religious Zionism party headed by Smotrich, who is set to become the finance minister, will have a seat on the council of the Israel Land Authority (ILA) which is in charge of allocating state lands for residential and other uses.

Palestinians in the Naqab face new threat from far-right militia
Ameer Makhoul
Read More »

Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in the Naqab region have long accused the Israeli government of attempting to uproot them through various tactics.

Those include confiscation of lands from native Palestinians and turning landowners into tenants. Additionally, the Israeli government has been accused of preventing the expansion of Palestinian villages and encircling them new Jewish settlements.

Under the new government, the enforcement of the ILA policy will fall under Ben-Gvir's authority as national security minister. 

His Jewish Power party will also receive the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry, according to the terms of his coalition deal with Likud, the party of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

Anti-Palestinian policies

Ben-Gvir, campaigning on anti-Palestinian far-right policies, has surged into the mainstream in Israel in recent years.

Among other controversial remarks is his frequent categorisation of Palestinian colleagues as "terrorists". He has also called for the deportation of his political opponents.

How Netanyahu handed Ben-Gvir the gun to start an annexation war
Read More »

In his youth, his views were deemed too extreme by the army, which banned him from compulsory military service. 

So far, he has reportedly secured several agreements with Likud that have raised alarm for Palestinians living in the occupied territories as well as those with Israeli citizenship.

There are nearly two million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, making up nearly 20 percent of the population. Around 300,000 of them live in the Naqab.

Netanyahu had announced late on Wednesday that he formed a new government, minutes before a midnight deadline set by President Isaac Herzog.

Israel's longest-serving prime minister will return to power after his Likud party, far-right religious Zionist factions and ultra-Orthodox parties secured 64 of the parliament's 120 seats in what will be Israel's most right-wing administration in history.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.