Clearly, global media over estimated strength of Israeli Center-Left parties in today's Israeli elections. Though PM Netanyahu's speech to Congress might not have helped, two of his last minute political calls seem to have helped to coalesce all of the Right votes for him:
- emphatic 'no' to a Palestinian state and
- racial and apartheid style hectoring of Israeli Arabs who voted in droves for the Joint List.
Later seems to be the only positive outcome of this election along with not so sterling performance of some of the right wing parties.
Assuming PM Netanyahu cobbles a coalition, which he seems to be more in the position than his opponent, there are number of consequences of this development:
- Radical elements in GOP which greeted Bibi with full embrace will get emboldened; resulting in continued shrill rhetoric in American Politics so far as Middle-East Foreign policy goes.
- More spanners in work for Iranian peace deal, more headache to Sec. Kerry; almost making it difficult to pass.
- 'Cause of independent Palestine' going completely to toilets with not much possibility of any peace deal any time soon. This would mean Palestinian faction will bring more votes to UNSC, they will escalate their fight in Europe and in global public opinion with a real possibility of further isolation of Israel in global body politics.
With complete neglect of economic policy by Netanyahu administration and willingness to allow rabid capitalism which induces more and more inequality in Israel; I suspect at some point more number of Israeli people will have buyer's remorse. (Equally it is imperative that Center-Left coalition improves upon their current political acumen since they could not match the political hard-ball of Bibi in this election.)
But beyond Israel (after all it is a working democracy and it will be forced eventually to solve the problem of life beyond Bibi); immediate questions are for Obama Administration. It can accept the election result pliantly and consider this as the mandate for Bibi. I doubt Obama Administration will do that and indeed it should not do that. Obama Administration simply has to run down the clock here. Solving Arab-Israel problem is off the table and even if it was on the table, with Bibi's refusal for an independent Palestinian state and expected refusal to stop Jewish settlements in Palestinian land which he will undertake now with vengeance; it will be waste of time and waste of political capital, whatever political capital left with Obama Administration.
Ideally, I would love President Obama never to meet PM Netanyahu in remaining days of his administration. Sec. Kerry can continue the low level dialogue, but there is absolutely no reason to elevate that dialogue any higher. There is no need of Bibi visiting White House nor any coordinated initiatives apart from whatever projects are in works (like Iron Dome, sharing of intelligence and coordination for fight against ISIS). Because what is ahead is - more protracted conflict in Middle-East, more settlements on occupied land, possibly next Intifada and continued bombastic rhetoric from rejuvenated Israeli PM Netanyahu.
In the end what is perplexing is a country with population little more than Bay Area (which has 7 Millions versus Zionist State at 8.2 Millions including 20% Arabs) would have such an outsize influence on Washington Politics and Global Politics. The job for Obama Administration is clear - to cut down this undue influence to it's rational proportion.
Bibi's re-election offers that opportunity to this President.