What is the most important theme of Israeli politics, policy, and thinking today? It is pretty simple but you will rarely see it explained in much of the world:
Most Israelis believe that the Palestinians don’t want to make a comprehensive peace with Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state. Hamas doesn’t want it; the Palestinian Authority (PA) is both unwilling and unable to do it. Israel faces a hostile Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah, and various Islamist movements which all want to destroy it. In addition, it cannot depend on strong Western or international support in defending itself.
Therefore, it is not a moment for Israel to make big concessions or take big risks. Peace is not at hand. The priority—even while continuing negotiations and trying to help the PA to survive—is defense.
That’s what the people who voted for Labor or Likud or Lieberman, Kadima or Shas or National Union or Jewish Home or United Torah Judaism believed. More than 85 percent of Israelis voted for parties that hold that basic conception, while that concept itself is the product of a very serious assessment of very real experience. And that—whatever differences they have—is beyond any definition of “left” or “right.”
In contrast, what is the main theme internationally in evaluating the elections? The right in Israel is against peace, Israelis moved to the right in this election hence Israelis are against peace.
To make such a leap, it is necessary to avoid talking about the herd of elephants in the room: Palestinian politics. If anyone looked beyond the most superficial level of English-language interviews by PA leaders trying to make propaganda points, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is no possibility of an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement for years to come. This is regardless of who is Israel’s leader or anything within reason, or even somewhat beyond reason, which could be offered.