Isolation is the price of Netanyahu’s electoral strategy

Matt Yglesias effectively refutes the argument that Netanyahu lacks a coherent strategy:

Netanyahu … described his strategic objectives as including perpetual military control over the Jordan Valley, perpetual Israeli control over East Jerusalem, and the non-emergence of a genuinely sovereign Palestinian polity on whatever scraps of the West Bank remain for Palestinian residents once Jewish settlers have grabbed all the bits they want… it’s clearly Netanyahu’s objective, and he’s pursued it quite doggedly and quite effectively for a long time now. He pursued it successfully as Prime Minister in the 1990s… And now back in the highest office in the land he’s pursuing it again, and he seems to be pursuing it successfully.

But I disagree with the following claim:

It’s true that regional isolation is one of the costs of this policy, but that simply underscores the extent to which there’s a real strategic commitment here and a price Netanyahu is willing to pay.

All of Netanyahu’s predecessors have pursued roughly the same policy. Some of them may have been willing to concede more territory, but not enough to substantially diverge from Netnayahu’s vision of Jewish Israeli dominance, or make a difference for Palestinians. Yet those leaders have managed to avoid regional isolation.

What has changed? First, the Arab spring (and the decades-long democratization of Turkey that preceded it) are making regional governments more responsive to the widespread resentment provoked by Israel’s policies. Second, Netanyahu’s government relies on parties – including Shas, Yisrael Beitenu, and Netanyahu’s own Likud– that owe their success to an electoral strategy of fomenting xenophobia and chauvinism. That entails adopting public stances which further alienate other peoples and governments in the region.

In other words, Netanyahu is willing the pay the price of regional isolation in order to maintain his electoral strategy, rather than his strategy towards the Palestinians. That is a key difference, and that makes it even less likely that he will show any flexibility.