In the wake of Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest win, experts voice concerns that the hawkish politician may bring future negotiations with Palestinians to a standstill and trigger another uprising.
An already stalled peace process between Palestine and Israel has become more contentious than ever before following the fifth victory of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The vote outcome will probably lead to a still more rightist government that will refuse to make any territorial concessions to the Palestinians and that will endeavour to annex parts of the West Bank,” Professor Benjamin Kader from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told TRT World.
“This may bring future negotiations to a standstill and trigger another uprising,” he said.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on his fifth electoral triumph, making him the longest-serving premier in the country, said ahead of the elections that he would annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he won another term in office.
The Palestinian leadership, which remains divided, with different parties in charge of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, issued a similar statement about the election result.
"Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo. They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation," top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement following the elections.
Khalil Al-Hayya, a senior member of Hamas, the Gaza-based resistance movement, said on Wednesday that all political parties in Israel are essentially the same.
Unsurprisingly, US President Donald Trump says Netanyahu’s election victory offered “a better chance” at peace.
"The fact that Bibi won, I think we'll see some pretty good action in terms of peace," he told reporters on Wednesday, using the Israeli premier's nickname.
"Everybody said you can't have peace in the Middle East with Israel and Palestinians. I think we have a chance and I think we now have a better chance."
The Trump administration has enjoyed exceptionally close ties with the Netanyahu government, especially in light of the Netanyahu family friendship with the Kushners, the family of Donald Trump’s son-in-law, since assuming power. He made his big move in December 2017 by declaring Jerusalem Israel's capital, a promise that every US president starting from Bill Clinton made, but didn't keep.
A few weeks before the Israeli elections, he announced Washington’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, an area seized from Syria and annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
“Palestinians have been alienated”
The shrinking peace process between Palestine and Israel have been stalled since a US-brokered process collapsed in 2014.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose government based in the West Bank, has frozen ties with Washington after Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has rejected to be part of the US peace plan which is labelled as the “deal of the century” by the White House and is expected to be announced soon.
“One should never lose hope, but right now, the prospects are bleak. Even if the Trump plan turns out to be more even-handed than expected, his previous moves have alienated the Palestinian leadership and at present, they are not willing to discuss any plan emanating from this US administration,” Professor Kader said.
Jubilant with Trump’s blank check policy outside and the election victory inside, Netanyahu is not expected to favour compromise.
“With the active encouragement or acquiescence of the Trump administration, they (Netanyahu government) will further entrench the occupation - and may pursue full or partial annexation in the West Bank, seeking to permanently prevent a two-state solution,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street - a nonprofit liberal advocacy group based in Washington, said in a written statement after the election result came up.
“The stakes in the months ahead could not be higher.”
Without international pressure and any progress in the political arena, both Palestinians and Israelis may be more far removed from peace than ever.
“The (peace process) is just on the papers, we need a permanent solution though. I don’t think there will be any development as long as Netanyahu is the prime minister. For peace, he must go,” Ron, 33, a health officer in Haifa, told TRT World.
Amid, 28, a university student in Haifa, who stated that he voted for Netanyahu, said that “most Israelis are not for the peace process as it was before.”
“Actually, even Bibi opponents didn’t say much about peace talks in their election campaigns.”
"Netanyahu's campaign was strong because it was about Palestinian blood, settlements expanding and sanctions on Palestinians."— TRT World (@trtworld) April 11, 2019
This is what Palestinians had to say about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's likely reelection. pic.twitter.com/8b4jNnFg2U
Among the Arab citizens, the image does not differ much from the Israelis’ when it comes to peace talks.
“I and most of the Arabs in this country don’t have any hope for peace under his (Netanyahu) rule. His win will not bring any good to us,” Musa, a 38-year-old Arab waiter working in central Haifa, told TRT World.
Arab voter turnout dropped to 50 per cent in this election from 63 per cent in 2015.
“He is the leader of this country for years and has not take any step towards peace. What can we expect from his (Netanyahu) government?” Musa added.