Palestinians Less Hopeful of Peace Deal as Israel Takes Tougher Stances

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Arabs are awaiting Israel's parliamentary elections with a mixture of apprehension, indifference and an understandable preoccupation with their own turbulent affairs at a time of extraordinary change.

Barring surprises, Israel's new prime minister will again be Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, who has presided over a Likud-led coalition since 2009, continued to expand settlements and failed to engage with the Palestinians - while waging one short war in Gaza and threatening another over Iran's nuclear programme.

Netanyahu's new team will promote settlements and oppose an independent Palestinian state - and is also likely to include Naftali Bennet's openly annexationist Jewish Home party. "The days of bulldozers uprooting Jews are behind us, not ahead of us," Bibi pledged in one of his final campaign interviews.

To measure just how far Israeli politics have shifted to the right it is worth recalling that 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Oslo accords in which Israel and the PLO recognized each other. Prospects for reaching a two-state solution are fading fast.

Inside Israel expectations of a revival of the peace process are zero. Jews have lost hope or interest in it, or actively oppose it, and Palestinian citizens look set to shun the election en masse. Palestinians in the West Bank have no vote and no say, as has been the case for the last 45 years.

"The new elections are going to result in more proliferation of settlements, more creeping annexation and less Palestinian access to East Jerusalem as a future capital of Palestine," was the bleak summary of the veteran Arab league diplomat Clovis Maksoud. "The competition among..right-wing parties lies in how quickly they can expedite the annexation of the West Bank." Mainstream Arab media comment and political discourse agrees. 

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SOURCE: The Guardian
Ian Black
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