Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection left many of those who desperately want a peaceful solution to the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a sense of despair. The Prime Minister's victory, in many peoples eyes, virtually closes the door on any resolution between the two sides for the foreseeable future with no way of knowing when or if talks between the two sides will start again. This may be true in the short term, but Netanyahu's reelection may actually wind up being the best thing that could have ever happened to the peace process in decades. Allow me to explain why.
Political junkies like myself spend a lot of time reading between the lines of official statements that come from major politicians and their spokespeople, especially so when it comes to the Executive Branch and a President's Press Secretary. The Press Secretary, for those of you who don't follow politics on a daily basis, is the official mouthpiece of the President. They hardly, if ever, misspeak or say anything they aren't one hundred percent sure the President would approve of. They wouldn't be behind that podium if they are prone to get off script and that's why I think we are actually about to see a major shift in the way the United States approaches the peace process.
It all started last week, the day after Netanyahu won his reelection bid, when White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the United States was going to "re-evaluate our approach
" with regards to the peace process. That comment was followed by a litany of top Obama Administration officials saying pretty much the same thing and eventually confirmed by the President when he personally said he was going to "evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region.
That may not seem like much, but I assure you that it most definitely is. That statement, if you read between the lines, is the President's way of signaling that big changes may be coming to the way we approach the conflict. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the President has signaled that the way the United States approaches the conflict at the United Nations is about to change. This avenue was suggested by Press Secretary Earnest:
"Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations have been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome. Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means that we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward.”
This quote may seem a bit confusing, but what the Press Secretary basically said was that the United States may stop blocking a vote for Palestinian statehood in the United Nations. To date the United States has vetoed the Palestinians attempt to gain recognition as a state at the UN because Israel insisted it would be detrimental to peace talks, but the United States may now allow a vote to go ahead, which will surely pass. This will further isolate Israel and may, in the long run, force them to come back to the bargaining table.
What this all means is that Mr. Netanyahu may have won in the short-term, but he will almost surely lose in the long-term. If Israel continues to isolate itself from the world community and refuses to end it's occupation of Palestine then they will be coming back to the table with a far weaker hand than they could have had. It's as the old saying goes--the Prime Minister may have won the fight, but he will lose the war.