While it has yet to be sworn in, the presumptive incoming Israel government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly set to carry out a handful of actions relating to and impacting the Israeli-Palestinian arena that contravene stated U.S. policy in support of two states. In coalition negotiations with Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir, both far-right figures who advocate for full West Bank annexation without rights for Palestinians, Netanyahu has agreed to the following:

Policy Commitments

  • Retroactively legalizing West Bank outposts, which Netanyahu agreed to do within 60 days of the government’s swearing-in
  • Amending the 2005 Disengagement Law to allow Israelis to settle in Homesh and other areas in the northern West Bank that were evacuated during the 2005 disengagement
  • Building a Jewish neighborhood on the site of the defunct Atarot Airport in East Jerusalem, which would impede future Palestinian contiguity between East Jerusalem and Ramallah
The illegal West Bank outpost of Esh Kodesh by Yehud830, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (License linked to image)

Bureaucratic Commitments

  • Moving oversight and ratification of the appointment of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the director of the West Bank Civil Administration out of the responsibility of the defense minister and handing them to a separate minister in the Defense Ministry, which will be held by a member of Religious Zionism. Many reports suggest that that minister will be Smotrich himself, who is also slated to serve as finance minister. The Civil Administration is responsible for authorizing construction in Area C, including settlements.
  • Transferring control of the Border Police in the West Bank to the new National Security Ministry (formerly the Public Security Ministry), which will be led by Ben Gvir. The Border Police in the West Bank is typically directed by the IDF. 
  • Passing legislation allowing the national security minister to set policy for the police and oversee the police’s budget, eroding the independence of the police commissioner and directly subordinating police officers to the ministry’s political leadership. This will give the national security minister significant authority over security forces on both sides of the Green Line.


Under Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, the Defense Ministry is responsible for administering the territory through the Civil Administration, a system that legally sets the territory apart from sovereign Israel. Transferring oversight of the West Bank from the defense minister to other figures in the Israeli government would contribute to the erosion of the distinction between Israel and the West Bank. Moreover, handing two pro-annexation figures, both personae non gratae for the Biden administration, key levers of power in West Bank will further their goals of entrenching Israel’s presence in the territory, weakening the Palestinian Authority, and forestalling a two-state outcome. Taken together with policy commitments in line with these priorities, the Netanyahu government is set to put Israel on a course toward de facto West Bank annexation that will put it at odds with the Biden administration’s commitment to two states.

Israeli soldiers block a road during a protest in the West Bank town of al-Masara, south of Bethlehem