People in the Palestinian territories have been on the edge cautiously following elections in Israel while remaining clueless about their future
Netanyahu’s victory has created much of churning because of his election promise to permanently annex settlements in West Bank into Israel, a move toward permanent occupation. With Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in recent elections, he is set to lead Israeli right-wing in Knesset, future of Palestine remains slippery. This undoubtedly will further deteriorate Israeli relations with Palestinian liberation organization (PLO) prolonging the conflict without any possibilities of concrete negotiation on the future of Palestine and peaceful coexistence. People in the Palestinian territories have been on the edge cautiously following elections in Israel while remaining clueless about their future. Netanyahu’s victory has created much of churning because of his election promise to permanently annex settlements in West Bank into Israel, a move toward permanent occupation. This can further complicate Israel-Palestinian conflict as such a step will blatantly violate Palestine’s right to exist in their homeland.
Besides, Netanyahu’s fifth term will further embolden him which means that peace negotiations will further be shelved while weakening Israel’s democratic institutions. The rise of far-right and its consolidation of power in the Jewish state destroyed Israel’s left wing which believes in the peaceful negotiations with Palestinians.
It is interesting to note that fragmented leadership in Palestine has actually helped Netanyahu in creating a discourse against the very existence of Palestine. At present Gaza strip is under the control of Hamas (an Islamic faction labeled as a terrorist organisation) since the military coup in 2007, while west bank is administered by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of PLO. Such factionalism has further added salt to Palestinians wound. Netanyahu asks the question with whom should Israel negotiate – PLO or the ‘Terrorist Group’? Such a discourse is part of a larger plan of Netanyahu who aims to separate Gaza strip from West Bank in any future negotiations on the question of Palestine. This clearly is against the rule-based order as laid out in the UN two nation plan of 1948.
Netanyahu succeeded in getting USA’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and subsequent opening up of USA’s embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Many other countries toed the line and moved their embassies to Jerusalem. As expected the decision was met with protests in West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza which Israel responded, as usual, with tear gas and snipers, resulting in the death of at least 58 Palestinians. Before this could sink in, Trump signed a decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan. This arbitrary, unilateral but major decision of USA has given a greater approval rating to Netanyahu within Israel, which is quite evident from election mandate.
On top of all unfavorable developments for Palestinians, Trump administration has come up with a catchy phrase ‘Deal of the century’, which is supposed to bring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to an end. At best, the deal is still not proposed, but a lot of international scholars hardly find any merit in such a claim. Given the recent developments, the possible proposals could be; firstly, giving up the “right of return” for Palestinians living outside Israel in lieu of compensation, secondly, remapping of Palestine. No marks for guessing, such a deal will not see the daylight because it violates Palestinian right to self-determination.
Hence, Netanyahu’s victory means more challenges in the offing for the Palestinians who considered “self-determination as their unalienable right” and “the right of return to Palestinian land which Israel occupied in 1948”. Hence, the situation in West Asia is going to be volatile at best and regional peace has to wait for the time being.
(Ali Abushbak is a Palestinian researcher whose work is on the Palestine-Israel conflict and Social Media)