I keep hearing that the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu — the Israeli prime minister hailed as a lame duck heading into this week’s elections, in which his Likud party actually strengthened its position — means war is in the offing. That’s in part because, late in the campaign, Netanyahu renounced his previous support for the “two-state solution” with the Palestinians.
Put another way — that is, a way Netanyahu’s critics would never admit to — the Israeli premier has moved away from a position the Palestinians have never actually accepted and toward the one they have really maintained all along.
As usual, Charles Krauthammer explains this in a very clear way:
“I have news for the lowing herds: There would be no peace and no Palestinian state if Isaac Herzog were prime minister either. Or Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert for that matter. The latter two were (non-Likud) prime ministers who offered the Palestinians their own state — with its capital in Jerusalem and every Israeli settlement in the new Palestine uprooted — only to be rudely rejected.
“This is not ancient history. This is 2000, 2001, and 2008 — three astonishingly concessionary peace offers within the last 15 years. Every one rejected.
“The fundamental reality remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership — from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no Israeli government of any kind will agree to a Palestinian state.”
Despite the rhetoric from the Abbas government carefully couched for Western ears, and much at odds with what its officials tell its people in their own tongue, Palestinian leaders have no intention of agreeing to terms that Israel could accept. It is doubtful it could deliver on such terms even if it wanted to. The main obstacle to a Palestinian state lies with the Palestinians themselves.
But that’s not all. Even if the Palestinians were more accommodating, Krauthammer says, Israel would have to be wary because the removal of dictators who were brutal but willing to make a deal means rest of the region is in such tatters from a security standpoint.
“That authoritarian order is gone. Syria is wracked by a multi-sided civil war that has killed 200,000 people and that has al-Qaeda allies, Hezbollah fighters, government troops, and even the occasional Iranian general prowling the Israeli border. Who inherits? No one knows.
“In the last four years, Egypt has had two revolutions and three radically different regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client so quickly the U.S. had to evacuate its embassy in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Qaddafi’s crazy authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime minister said ‘targets the stability of the country.’
“From Mali to Iraq, everything is in flux. Amid this mayhem, by what magic would the West Bank, riven by a bitter Fatah–Hamas rivalry, be an island of stability? What would give any Israeli–Palestinian peace agreement even a modicum of durability?”
Read the whole thing. These depressing realities make Bibi look Nobel Prize-worthy by comparison. Just don’t expect an acknowledgment of that from those who want to heap all the blame on him and his country.