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Israel's far right slate makes annexation official policy ahead of September election

Ayelet Shaked issues list of 'core values' including extending Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and upholding the nation-state law
Ayelet Shaked has seized control of Israel's far right (AFP)

The Israeli far right has made annexation of the occupied West Bank official policy, after United Right leader Ayelet Shaked included the move in a list of “core values” her slate’s members had to swear by.

The former justice minister and head of the United Right, a grouping of extremist religious-Zionist parties, issued on Monday a list of 10 points she demanded people declare loyalty to ahead of Israel’s 17 September elections.

Among them is extending Israel sovereignty over “the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley”, referring to the West Bank.

The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since the 1967 Middle East war, and is home to some 2.8 million Palestinians and over 400,000 Israeli settlers. Israel has been settling its citizens in the Palestinian territory in contravention of international law.

Shaked also declared her party’s absolute rejection of a Palestinian state being founded on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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“We are the only list that opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state and any withdrawal from the Palestinian territories. We will work to develop the settlement throughout the country,” her list said.

Shaked’s slate is predicted to win around 10 seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The United Right could then form a highly influential part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, were his Likud party and allies to gain enough seats to form a coalition.

Other points United Right members must abide by include upholding Israel’s highly controversial nation-state law and promoting Jewish settlement.

The nation-state law, passed in May 2018, enshrines a two-tiered system in the country giving legal primacy to Jews above all other races and religions.

As justice minister, Shaked used her position to undermine the power and legitimacy of Israel’s legal system, particularly the Supreme Court, which the Israeli right wing accuses of holding back its legislation.

She called for United Right members to be for “strengthening the status of the Knesset as a legislative authority and restoring confidence in the court”, as well as “strengthening the status of elected officials in the face of senior officials”.

As for the immigration of non-Jews to Israel, Shaked’s list outlined her slate’s determination to end immigration based on family unification.

Turning to relations with the Palestinians, one point insisted that the United Right would refuse to free any “terrorists”, by which she means releasing prisoners arrested for attacks on Israel.

'We are the only list that opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state and any withdrawal from the Palestinian territories. We will work to develop settlement throughout the country'

- Shaked's United Right

Shaked’s list of pledges comes, almost certainly on purpose, a day after Netanyahu insisted Likud candidates all pledge personal loyalty to him personally.

Netanyahu sacked Shaked and her ally Naftali Bennet as justice and education minister in a shock cabinet shake-up on 2 June. The prime minister and former justice minister have clashed repeatedly in recent months, particularly in the run-up to April’s parliamentary elections.

Then running alongside Bennet in their New Right party, Shaked failed to win a seat in the Knesset after her list was unable to gain more than 3.25 percent of the vote necessary to enter parliament.

However, those polls proved inconclusive after Netanyahu was unable to form a government and MPs voted for an election re-run in September.

That gave Shaked another chance to revive her parliamentary career, and despite the best efforts of Netanyahu and his wife Sara, she took charge of the New Right and allied it with other parties to create the United Right slate.