Change seemed realistic when polls showed that Benjamin Netanyahu would lose to his main opponent, Isaac Herzog, of the Zionist Union. Yet the results of the recent Israeli Knesset Elections, which took place last Tuesday, showed the close, but clear victory of HaLikud, Netanyahu’s right-wing political party.
Netanyahu’s campaign used the ‘Iranian threat’ and the ‘Palestinian problem’ as tools to promote his right-wing approach. However, those two issues did not strike the Israeli public as urgent or central to present-day problems. Nowadays, most Israeli citizens barely care about the matter of peace in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israelis and the idea of two states for two nations. After the 2008 economic crisis, the Israeli public has been busy voicing its disapproval of the expenses of living in Israel. The simplest issue of the increasingly high expense of cottage cheese sparked the 2011 Social Justice Protests that shed a light on the importance of reform in Israeli economic policy. These protests directly affected the political scene in having Yair Lapid, a famous Israeli journalist, and Stav Shaffir, a young social activist and one of the prominent figures of the 2011 protests, both join the Knesset. Lapid and Shaffir joined Knesset as a part of Yesh Atid and the Labour Party respectively, due to their rapid work in advocating for a reformed economic policy.
Yet the emphasis on economic policy left the question of a Palestinian State unanswered. Just a few days before the elections, Netanyahu stated that there would be no Palestinian State under his administration in order to appeal to the conservative Israeli voter. In spite of reconsidering his statement regarding the Palestinian State a week after the elections, Netanyahu is surely not interested in peace talks with the Palestinians: a matter that is also obvious to Washington. This may partially explain the growing tensions between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu can only mean one thing: Israeli policy regarding Palestine is going to be no different than the one we have witnessed for the past nine years. Netanyahu’s apathetic approach to the establishment of the Palestinian State, and his pro-settlement policies that give away an incredibly large portion of the State’s budget to the settlements and military domination, are going to result in international sanctions on the State of Israel. The interior status quo in Israel during Netanyahu’s administration will eventually lead to creating exterior pressures from Europe, where many countries are officially recognizing Palestine as a state. The United States will work on continuing peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and the two-state solution.
Perhaps in the next few years, the State of Palestine will have to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his oppressive, anti-Palestinian and inhumane policies. Ironically, they may very well lead to the creation and independence of the Palestinian State.