There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another, say Palestinians
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Zainah El-Haroun and Nidal al-Mughrabi
Ramallah/Gaza - Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Thursday mostly dismissed a change in Israeli government, saying the nationalist leader due to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely pursue the same right-wing agenda.
Naftali Bennett, a former official in Israel's main West Bank settler organisation, would be Israel's new leader under a patchwork coalition struck on Wednesday.
"There is no difference between one Israeli leader and another," said Ahmed Rezik, 29, a government worker in Gaza.
"They are good or bad for their nation. And when it comes to us, they are all bad, and they all refuse to give the Palestinians their rights and their land."
Bassem Al-Salhi, a representative for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said Bennett was no less extreme than Netanyahu, adding: "He will make sure to express how extreme he is in the government."
Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, said it made no difference who governs Israel.
“Palestinians have seen dozens of Israeli governments throughout history, right, left, centre, as they call it. But all of them have been hostile when it comes to the rights of our Palestinian people and they all had hostile policies of expansionism,” spokesman Hazem Qassem said.
In what would be a first in Israel, a governing coalition would include an Islamist party elected by members of Israel's 21% Arab minority, who are Palestinian by culture and heritage and Israeli by citizenship.
Its leader, Mansour Abbas, said the coalition agreement would bring more than 53 billion shekels ($16 billion) to improve infrastructure and combat violent crime in Arab towns..
But he has been criticised in the West Bank and Gaza for siding with what they see as the enemy.
"He is a traitor. What will he do when they ask him to vote on launching a new war on Gaza?" said Badri Karam, 21, in Gaza.
"Will he accept it, being a part of the killing of Palestinians?"