The re-election of Benjamin (‘Bibi’) Netanyahu in Israel has not gone down well in the chancelleries of Europe, let alone the White House. During his terms of office, a majority of western politicians and commentators have become opposed to Netanyahu, viewing him as an obstacle to peace. BBC reporters claimed that his win was down to ‘scare tactics’. The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said he found Bibi’s success ‘depressing’.
But the election results are a reminder that, although outside the country there is a vast industry focused on the unresolved Israel-Palestinian border dispute, inside Israel other issues dominate. Fifteen years after the failure of negotiations at Camp David, Israeli politics is (as in every other western democracy) dominated by the cost of living, house prices and income inequal- ity. Like his left-wing opponents, Netanyahu has promised to address these concerns.
It is undeniable that a win by his opponents would have allowed Israel to catch its breath in the court of international opinion. But any cheer would not have lasted long, because even the election of the left- of-centre Zionist Union would not have altered the nature of Hamas. Nor would the election of the ‘progressive’ Isaac Herzog have created a serious negotiating partner in the West Bank. We can’t just blame Bibi for the lack of peace in the Middle East.
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