Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this week that if Israeli voters returned him to office, there would be no Palestinian State on his watch. If past actions were any measure, most observers had already concluded what Netanyahu finally put into words. Did Netanyahu just draw a free card or will there be consequences?
To repeat the obvious, the Middle East and specifically the Israeli-Palestinian situation iremains complex and carries a huge history of contradictions. Recognizing specific consequences tied to his statement might be difficult. Netanyahu’s announcement (contradicting his statements in the past) will, however, remove any remaining world opinion about “poor Israel” being the victim of unreasonable neighbors. The possibility of many other nations or the UN recognizing the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate government in the occupied lands is real.
Gone, also, will be the notion that the only obstacle standing in the way of Middle East peace was a stubborn and intractable Palestinian Authority. Israel now owns the cause for continued Arab terrorism against Israel.
Does this mean that Hamas and Hezbollah would have chosen non-aggression had Israel confirmed its commitment to a 2 State solution?
Very unlikely. Hamas and Hezbollah are surrogate organizations financed by Iran and would have been expected to continue their extremism even if Israel had sincerely attempted to find a 2 State solution.
The two State solution, however, is driven by other considerations, namely the alternative one State solution will lead to apartheid and still present the same level of external risks towards the existence of Israel.
The one State solutions in democratic Israel will inevitably lead to restrictions being placed upon non-jewish residents. If not, Palestinian demographics will soon put the Palestinians in the voting majority.
Netanyahu undoubtably recognizes this outcome. He also recognizes that world opinion will isolate Israel economically (as it did South Africa). He never the less made his announcement in a desperate attempt to win the election. Live today, die tomorrow.
While Netanyahu might want to walk back his statement, he is stuck with it (and all the consequences) for the near future.