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Israel's extremist settlers control government as Netanyahu dismisses warnings

The latest fatal incident in the West Bank town of Burqa shows that settlers now have the upper hand in the Netanyahu government.
Smoke billows as Israeli soldiers demolish a house at the Asker camp for Palestinian refugees east of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank, early on August 8, 2023. The Israeli army demolished the house of Abdel Fatah Khroushah accused of an attack which killed two Israelis in the occupied West Bank at the end of February. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP) (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — The rise in the violence of settlers against West Bank Palestinians reflects the growing powers of far-right Knesset members within the Netanyahu coalition. 

The radical Jewish parties Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced since forming his government seven months ago are biting the hand that feeds them. Having given them responsibility for national security and settlement expansion, these coalition members and their constituents are sowing discord and chaos in the West Bank, and protecting settlers who wreak them. And Netanyahu? He is mum.

In the latest such incident, Quasi Jamal Matan, a 19-year-old Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Burqa, was killed Aug. 4 by an Israeli settler who was apparently injured by rocks Palestinians had thrown at him and his friends. Five Palestinians and two Israeli settlers have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the clash. One of the settlers was until recently a parliamentary adviser and spokesperson for Knesset member Limor Son Har-Melech of the far-right Jewish Power party. 

After the incident, police allowed two Knesset members — one of them Zvi Sukkot of the Jewish Power faction — to meet the suspect in the Palestinian’s killing, while he was hospitalized. In general, Israeli Knesset members are not allowed to meet with detainees suspected of serious offenses during the initial stages of a police investigation against them. Sukkot's one-on-one meeting with the suspect lasted about 40 minutes.

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