Israeli election results are out and not surprisingly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won despite exit polls showing his party losing seats in the Knesset. Israel’s right-wing and centre-left blocs won an equal share of the parliament seats. It remains to be seen how this will impact Netanyahu’s policies as he will have to answer to different sections of the political spectrum.
Nevertheless, it would be foolish to assume that this time around, the third-time prime minister will actually make peace talks with the Palestinians his top priority and put an end to his militarised Zionist policies. In fact, shortly after his win, Netanyahu said that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is his government’s first challenge.
This is bound to heighten tensions between Israel and its neighbours at a time when the international community is keen on keeping diplomacy pivotal in dealing with Iran’s nuclear programme. The past two years in the Middle East have witnessed uprisings in several Arab countries and the regional sentiments have grown stronger in the face of Israeli brutality and intransigence. Yet again, Israel is being presented with a chance to ‘do the right thing’ and put an end to its illegal policies against the Palestinians. This is, of course, very unlikely.
Foreign governments must put pressure on Israel to finally work out with the Palestinians a negotiated two-state resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Moreover, the international community has a duty to act against Netanyahu’s expansionist policies which include building new illegal colonies on Palestinian land and expanding existing ones and his refusal to give Palestinians equal rights as Israelis. Empty rhetoric from the EU or even the US is no longer acceptable and Washington should make peace between Israelis and Palestinians a top priority.
Having said that, no one should hold their breath that Israel will either commit to ending its militarised policies and actions against the Palestinians or even listen and act on international pressure. Palestinians should consider their next move, including going to the International Criminal Court over the illegal colonies.