Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister on 29 December, despite being currently on trial for corruption. The new government includes ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties that have pledged to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, with some ministers convicted for crimes such as tax fraud, corruption and terrorism. The Knesset approved several bills throughout December in preparation for Netanyahu's government, including amendments to the Basic Law, which had prevented those who have been sentenced to prison from holding a ministerial position, and extended authority to National Security Minister over Israeli police force and Civil Administration in West Bank. This will be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, and analysts warn that some of the new legislation it has proposed will inflame conflict, damage the judiciary, and restrict minority rights. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara warned that the new government’s legislative program threatens to turn Israel into a “democracy in name, but not in essence.”
Israel’s fifth election in less than four years has resulted in an apparent victory for a religious nationalist coalition led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, was tasked with forming a government by President Isaac Herzog. A far-right government is expected as Netanyahu has pledged to seek national consensus with policies such as annexation of the West Bank, alterations to the role of the judiciary, and strict opposition to any territorial concessions with the Palestinians, generating national and international concern.
Israel imposed new legislation that tightens control in West Bank and effectively entrenches Israel’s 55-year control over the Palestinian population in the territory. The Israeli military body responsible for civilian affairs in the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) released a wide-ranging policy imposing rules, reporting requirements, and restrictions for foreigners who want to enter Palestinian areas of the West Bank, extending its control of daily life and movement in and out of the occupied territory. The rules do not apply to people visiting Israel or the more than 130 Jewish settlements scattered across the West Bank.
With less than two months left until Israel goes to the polls, Prime Minister Yair Lapid launched airstrikes into Gaza. Conflict broke out between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) lasting three days before a ceasefire was agreed. According to the United Nations, 47 Palestinians were killed, including 12 PIJ fighters, and 360 people were injured. The Palestinian deaths included 15 children and four women, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. Among those Palestinians wounded, 151 were children and 56 women.