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The least important elections yet!

Sep 23,2019 - Last updated at Sep 23,2019

Israeli elections came amid swirling questions about whether Benjamin Netanyahu would lose the elections and, if yes, how this would impact the peace process. We don’t, yet, know who will form the next government and who will sit in it. But a close look at the outcome of the elections reveals that the make-up of the Knesset will place the peace process on the back burner.

We know that Netanyahu seeks to form a government so that he can escape the court’s looming indictment.  Obviously, the dumbest spin of all came from Netanyahu himself when he insisted on the Zionist nature of the state as the basis of any ruling coalition. He just warned against having a government based on the support of the Arab Joint List, accusing it of harbouring anti-Israeli sentiments. Well, we have seen this movie before. Netanyahu has used every trick in the book to kill the peace process. His agenda represents the opposite of peace.

Likewise, Netanyahu’s key rival, Benny Gantz, does not plan on resuming the peace process. Eight months ago, Gantz launched his political career with videos bragging about how many Palestinians were killed when he was chief of staff. Kahol Lavan, the party led by Gantz, is nothing but a right-wing party led by former generals who never subscribed to the peace camp. Some of the key members of the party are Likudnicks who never believed in a two-state solution. Moshe Ya’alon, for instance, once described the Peace Now movement as a virus. He also made it perfectly clear that there would be no independent Palestinian state. 

To be sure, the Israeli elections were not about peace with the Palestinians. Take a look at the platform of Kahol Lavan to discover that it is not that different from Likud. It does not spell out a clear plan for resolving the long-standing conflict with the Palestinians. Therefore, the ex-generals, who formed Kahol Lavan, are united behind one objective: Dethrone Netanyahu at all cost.

I suspect that the Palestinians are extremely happy to see Benjamin Netanyahu lose elections and quit politics. However, few, if any, pin hope on elections to produce a peace coalition that would finally meet the demands for just peace. The days that Palestinians show interest in Israeli elections are long past.

What’s next for the peace process? Political predictions are always risky. But Palestinians remain unfazed by the outcome of Israeli elections.  Both contenders ­— Gantz and Netanyahu — see eye-to-eye on key issues in respect to the Palestinians and indeed the annexation of some big chunks of the occupied West Bank. In other words, there is nothing to hope from the new government.

Certainly, Israelis disagree with my key point that the elections are the least important. For many of them, the elections could be a sort of watershed as Netanyahu will for sure no longer be the same. In the end, what define Israelis’ voting behaviour are various interests. Is peace among these interests? Hardly! Against this realisation, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that peace, based on the two-state solution, will remain far-fetched.


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