With the formation of Israel’s 37th government and the release of its guiding principles, and coalition agreements Yesh Din, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Breaking the Silence and Ofek published a policy paper analyzing the new policy.

The coalition agreements openly express an intention to apply Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, or, in other words, annex it. In our assessment, though formal annexation through the enactment of a law applying Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank is unlikely due to foreign policy considerations, the picture emerging from an examination of the various measures included in the agreements is one of annexation without an official declaration. The absence of any reference whatsoever to the rights of Palestinians in the West Bank in the coalition agreements with the various parties or the government’s guiding principles implies that the Government of Israel most certainly will not grant Palestinians civil status.

The level of specificity included in the coalition agreements is unusual and appears to reflect detailed work plans. They provide a clear picture regarding the government intentions, goals and priorities. The agreements provide massive funding to support the further entrenchment and expansion of Israel’s settlement enterprise, and for the extensive application of Israeli law, jurisdiction, and administration in the West Bank, adding to the permanence of Israel’s presence and control over it.

The planned measures are grounded in an express intent to encourage Israeli citizens to settle beyond the Green Line in blatant violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This intent clearly emerges from the guiding principles adopted by the government, which begin with the following statement: “The Jewish people have an exclusive and indisputable right to all parts of the Land of Israel. The Government will promote and develop settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel – the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan and Judea and Samaria.” The reference to an apparent exclusive right of the Jewish people establishes Jewish supremacy as the central consideration in all government actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and within Israel.

The policy paper offers a brief overview of the planned measures and trends as they emerge from the coalition agreements, along with an analysis of their impact on the human rights of protected persons in the OPT: annexation, settlement expansion, reduced accountability for security forces and settlers, and shrinking democratic space within Israel’s sovereign borders.

The coalition agreements must be viewed as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts – under the guise of sovereignty, annexation will be effected and Israel’s control of the West Bank will grow and solidify; under the guise of “the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel” and support for the settlements, intensive settlement development will be pursued and Israeli presence in the West Bank will increase; under the guise of equality (between Israelis on both sides of the Green Line) the existing legal gap, whereby settlers enjoy rights in vast excess of those granted to the Palestinian residents of the OPT, will grow wider; in the name of a national campaign to restore personal security, security forces will become even less accountable, leaving Palestinians more vulnerable to violence and exacerbating the hardship they already endure; and, finally, in the name of improving governance and restoring a proper balance between the branches of government, democracy within sovereign Israel will be weakened as the system of checks and balances is eroded and civil opposition to government action is silenced.

All of the above means Jewish supremacy in the West Bank will be bolstered; Palestinians will continuously be pushed out of Area C, those among them with affinity to lands will be dispossessed and deprived of their property rights; and the obligations of the occupying power will be abdicated as the rights of protected persons are violated and international law is breached. The new government is, therefore, set to effectively violate two key principles of the regime of occupation – temporariness and trusteeship, and further entrench the regime of apartheid in the West Bank.

(See also: Analysis of the appendices to the coalition agreements signed between the Likud and Religious Zionism)