Netanyahu government vows to expand Jewish presence in Hebron

Coalition deal with Religious Zionist Party includes Likud pledge to grow Hebron’s Jewish community.

By World Israel News Staff

A pledge to expand and strengthen the Jewish presence in Hebron, including encouraging more Jews to move to the city, is included in the coalition agreements between the Religious Zionism Party and Likud, Hebrew language media outlets reported Thursday morning.

The Religious Zionism party’s agenda in its coalition deal with incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made headlines in recent days, including a clause that provides a religious exemption for anti-discrimination laws and a promise that Israel will not join the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty which aims to stop violence against women.

The right-wing party, led by MK Betzalel Smotrich and which ran with MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s now-separate faction Otzma Yehudit, has prioritized strengthening Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as part of its platform.

According to reports, the Religious Zionism Party’s coalition agreement with the Likud also required a pledge for de facto annexation in Judea and Samaria, which would see the dismantling of the COGAT entity which serves as a conduit between the IDF and Palestinians, the transfer of powers regarding building in the region to Smotrich, and the retroactive legalization of some 90 Jewish outposts that are currently classed as unauthorized by the Israeli government.

The focus on growing Hebron’s Jewish community is aligned with Religious Zionism’s goals. It’s unclear which promises in the coalition agreement Netanyahu intends to keep, as reports indicate that he may trade annexation in Judea and Samaria for a peace deal with Saudi Arabia.

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The specific mention of Hebron may have been triggered by a recent viral video of a soldier arguing with left-wing activists in the city.

The soldier, who said they had verbally berated him, disobeyed his commands to leave the area, and filmed him without his consent, eventually sniped at the group that “Ben Gvir will make order here” and that “the fun is over” for people like the activists.

The soldier was sentenced to 10 days in an IDF prison for snapping at the group, which outraged numerous right-wing politicians, including Ben Gvir.