A few lessons from yesterday's elections in Israel: fear will always trump hope; the two-state solution is a diplomatic dodo; and suggestions that Arab Israelis should not vote will be rewarded, not punished by the Jewish state’s general voting public.
After calling early elections that were supposed to be a walk through, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu panicked as surveys—and U.S. Democrats—turned against him during the final days of the campaign. (There are blessedly few of them in Israel—something the United States could learn from.) With Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union in a late surge inspired by Mr. Netanyahu’s unprecedented condescension to a sitting U.S. president, the prime minister threw all caution—and any hope for a resolution of this 67-year conflict—to the wind. His scorched earth campaign pulled the veil back on his true intentions regarding the “peace process,” burning constituents in Israel and Democratic friends of Israel in Washington alike.
Some have already said that the pragmatic Netanyahu will find a way to backpedal from his unseemly comments and commitments in order to ensure his “legacy” by the end of his fourth term of office. But stalemate—or worse—is the prime minister’s legacy, and he seems content to accept it. Israeli settlements will encroach deeper into the West Bank, already deeply embittered by the Israeli occupation. And a fractured West Bank will be hurried on its way to Gaza’s fate as a vast open-air prison for an inconvenient regional minority group.
The prime minister said what he said and at least the charade of the peace negotiations can end. Now the only question is how far the United States is prepared to travel alongside Israel as it accelerates to an inevitable demographic and depopulation crisis that is its de facto one-state solution.