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Settling Settlements

Netanyahu's Real Policies, Before and After the Election

Jewish settlers stand behind an orange Star of David at entrance of Jewish settlement of Shirat Hayam, August 8, 2005. Goran Tomasevic / Courtesy Reuters

For the first time in over 15 years, Israel may soon form a coalition government that is composed solely of right-wing factions. This could have major implications for settlement expansion. After all, both of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous governments (2009–2013 and 2013–2015) included center-left parties that opposed settlement expansion outside areas that—according to past negotiations and in any realistic future peace accord—would end up as part of Israel. That is, his governments allowed population growth to expand freely in the major settlement blocs that Israel is expected to keep, but they constrained growth in the smaller settlements beyond Israel’s security barrier, which would likely be part of any future Palestinian state.

In the years to come, though, the United States might have to contend with a new policy. During Netanyahu’s past six years as prime minister, his settlement policy has been the subject of great controversy and

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