Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu surprised nearly everyone by decisively securing a third consecutive term in office. But the celebration is likely to be short: By renouncing a two-state solution and pledging continued settlement of occupied land, Netanyahu has exposed Israel to serious political and diplomatic consequences.
RAMALLAH – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu certainly has reason to celebrate. He surprised nearly everyone by securing a decisive electoral victory, winning a third consecutive term in office after his right-wing Likud party gained a five-seat advantage in the Knesset over its main rival, the center-left Zionist Union. But the celebration is likely to be short. The way Netanyahu finagled this outcome – renouncing his commitment to a two-state solution with Palestine and pledging to continue building settlements on occupied land – will almost certainly have serious political and diplomatic consequences for Israel.
In recent years, Netanyahu’s hardline stance has increasingly undermined Israel’s international credibility, while convincing the Palestinians living in the occupied territories that a genuine agreement with Israel is impossible. (Indeed, Palestinians showed little interest in the outcome of this election.)
Now that Netanyahu has intensified his right-wing rhetoric – and been rewarded with another term in power – the international movement to isolate Israel will only gain momentum. After all, support for direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine no longer makes sense, even for Israel’s main ally, the United States, because the assumptions underlying this approach have been demolished.