Washington - Just after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was re-elected, experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict met to determine what the vote means.
“The Israeli elections really did ask more questions than they answered,” said Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Centre Washington DC, which sponsored the panel. “The question now is: ‘Now what?’”
While some questions remained unanswered, including “Will Netanyahu be indicted?” and “Will the United States release its peace plan?” panellists said the election should serve as notice that Israel will remain dominated by the political right for the foreseeable future and that the election will help define US politics for years.
That change comes, in part, because US President Donald Trump’s administration, in supporting Netanyahu, has forced politicians to say where they stand on the idea of a one-state solution as well as because US Jews have become more secular and more willing to talk about supporting Israel while not necessarily supporting its policies, especially its treatment of Arab-Israelis and Palestinians.
It also comes as Israel itself moves further to the right.
“It was clear along the way that the religious right-wing bloc would have more votes than the centre-left bloc but I think it has served as a bit of a wake-up call,” said Amir Tibon, a Washington correspondent for Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.
The Trump administration announced that its peace plan proposal would be delayed until after Ramadan, which ends June 4, but US State Department officials said they would support Israel’s plans, whether they entail a one-state or two-state solution.
Many in Israel and the United States say Netanyahu and the United States will seek a one-state solution to the conflict and the election led many in the international community, including high-ranking officials writing a letter to the Guardian, to plead for a two-state solution.
“I just want to say that any hope for change, which I think there is, is here in the United States,” said Nadia Hijab, co-founder of the Palestinian Policy Network. Netanyahu has pinned his hopes on the orthodox Jews in the United States, she said, adding: “That, I think, is a mistake.”
She said US Jews tend to be more liberal in their politics while not supporting Trump, and the Palestinian movement in the United States is growing and has been galvanised by the Trump administration.