Netanyahu's Successful Campaign May Prove Destructive for Israel

If Israel does not adopt a two-state solution, one will be forced on it.

Haaretz Editorial
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A photograph of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on the floor with Likud ballots at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 18, 2015.
A photograph of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on the floor with Likud ballots at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 18, 2015.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Haaretz Editorial

President Reuven Rivlin will soon appoint Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the new coalition based on the recommendations of parties that comprise a Knesset majority. Despite their fraught relationship, Rivlin is not the president that Netanyahu should be worried about. With the president of the United States, Barack Obama, it will be much more difficult for Netanyahu. That is clearly the fault of Netanyahu, who, besides his blunt interference in internal American politics, scattered a series of harsh statements – some of them racist – during the election campaign.

The Obama administration voiced its strong objections to Netanyahu’s remarks against the Arabs of Israel, and to his attempt to throw sand in the world’s eyes with regard to his stand on a Palestinian state. Netanyahu declared on the eve of the elections that during his term as prime minister there would be no Palestinian state, although he knew full well that since June 2002, the establishment of a Palestinian state is at the foundation of American policy. After the campaign, Netanyahu backtracked from some of his remarks, saying they were merely an assessment of the situation. That is, he would not thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state – reality itself would do it.

Netanyahu applied to Israel the pattern of hypocrisy that Israel has for decades attributed to neighboring leaders, claiming that they say one thing in Arabic for domestic consumption and another in English for the world to hear. If we believe one version of Netanyahu, we cannot believe another, and either way we do not believe someone who has two contradictory versions. Obama has already made clear that he does not think Netanyahu wants or can take part in a process that will culminate in an agreement.

Obama is determined to leave his imprint and legacy by tying up loose ends – from Guantanamo prison to the Iranian nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is “reassessing” his policy in the region, with the outcome expected to help Palestinian efforts in the United Nations and make things harder for Israel, if it insists on toeing Netanyahu’s line.

The ruined personal relationship between Netanyahu and Obama cannot be repaired, but if the next government chooses the extreme path Netanyahu outlined in the campaign, the situation of all Israeli citizens will worsen. Israel will be forced to deal with economic sanctions from the European Union, and will cease to enjoy an automatic American veto in the international arena. If Israel does not adopt a two-state solution, one will be forced on it from the outside, and at a much more painful price. What proved efficient electioneering could turn out to be a destructive policy that puts Israel at risk.

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