The people have spoken in the Middle East’s oldest, most authentic, exuberantly vibrant, freest democracy, and delivered a resounding personal victory to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Much will be made by his critics of his late-hour campaign pledge that no Palestinian state would be created on his watch. In fact, that position constituted a simple acknowledgment of reality.
Hope for a Palestinian state has been dead for a long time.
Hope for a Palestinian state died in 2008 when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas didn’t bother even to respond to the offer of a settlement to the long Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister at that time. And that proposal managed to be even more generous than the one midwifed by President Bill Clinton and offered by Israel in 2000 but rejected by Yasser Arafat in favor of a terror war against Israeli civilians.
Hope for a Palestinian state died in 2005-2007 after the Israelis, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, dismantled Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and pulled out all Israeli forces. That left a Palestinian proto-state that could have shown the world that the Palestinians were ready for self-government and prepared to build a civil society that could live in peace with its neighbors.
Instead, Palestinian mobs burned infrastructure such as greenhouses that could have benefited economic development. Civil war broke out between the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organization Hamas over who would rule Gaza. Hamas won, and it and its terror allies rained rockets down on Israel, sparking ceaseless tensions, deadly clashes and two full-scale wars.
Hope for a Palestinian state died 2000-2005 in the sickening campaign of suicide bombings, shootings and lynchings that Arafat inflicted on the Israelis in return for their commitment to the Oslo peace process, which culminated in the 2000 generous deal Arafat rejected.
Hope for a Palestinian state died in 2014 when Abbas entered into a “government of national unity” with Hamas. Where was the prospect for peace in an arrangement that embraces a terrorist organization dedicated to the death of Israel?
Hope for a Palestinian state died when the so-called “Arab spring” degenerated into a nightmare of, to use a term from President Barack Obama, “violent extremism.” A short-lived radical Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, civil war in Syria, the rampaging and outrages of the Islamic State, chaos in Iraq and Libya, and the meddling of Iran turned the Middle East into even more of a dangerous neighborhood for Israelis, who have lived under existential threats since the founding of their nation.
Hope for a Palestinian state died when the supposedly moderate Abbas failed to rein in the vile anti-Israel propaganda that permeates Palestinian media and schools.
Hope for a Palestinian state died when hope among the Israeli people for a peace partner in Abbas crashed on the hard facts of his refusal to prepare his people for peace, his never-ending search for a reason not to enter into meaningful peace negotiations.
Hope for a Palestinian state has been killed time and again — by the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has much work ahead — assembling the coalition that fractured Israeli politics requires of a prime minister, confronting severe economic and social stress at home, and confronting the biggest threat to peace, the nuclear ambitions of Iran. Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains an issue; Netanyahu and the Israelis will be ready to deal with it when the Palestinians are. His late-hour campaign position only acknowledged the realities of the world where Israel lives.