Following the vote in the Knesset, the new government of Israel has been sworn in, ending nearly 18 months of political deadlock. According to the coalition agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be replaced by the Blue and White chairman, Benny Gantz, after 18 months. The Labor Party also decided to join the Netanyahu-led government.
S&D president Iratxe García Pérez said:
“We are deeply concerned about the birth of the new Netanyahu-led government, backed by the Blue and White Party, which has been approved by the Knesset.
“The possibility to close the Netanyahu era was at hand. We regret the decision taken by Israel’s Labor Party to join the coalition government, missing the historic opportunity to contribute towards turning the page on this infamous chapter of Israeli politics.
“This government resembles more a personal exit strategy for Benjamin Netanyahu than a real, but still dangerous, political programme. Should Netanyahu turn his rhetoric into actions, this could lead to Israel's illegal annexation of the occupied territories.
“The S&D Group will never accept this. We reiterate our firm belief that a negotiated, just, and viable two-state solution, jointly supported by both Israeli and Palestinian people, is the only way forward for a lasting peace in the Middle East.”
S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, Kati Piri, said:
“We strongly oppose the coalition agreement that forms the basis of this government, and the perspective of annexing parts of the occupied West Bank in particular.
“This move would constitute a flagrant violation of international law, and also a breach of Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, to which the EU must respond accordingly.
“We call on the international community to use all its leverage on the Israeli government to prevent any such unilateral decision destroying any hope for peace through the two-state solution.
“We also support EU High Representative Josep Borrell in his efforts to create unity among member states on this matter and to achieve a genuine political role for the EU in the peace process. It is high time to turn words into deeds.”