I have a piece on Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel on the next elections in Israel, scheduled for the end of 2013 but more likely to take place in the coming year. The bottom line:
Of all the major parties, none is expected to run in the next elections under a peace platform. Labor’s new leader, the ex-journalist Shelly Yachimovich, prefers to concentrate on the economy and distribution of wealth. In a recent interview she even spoke of her sympathy to the settlement movement. In Kadima, the hawkish Shaul Mofaz is considered the front-runner in the coming primaries against current party leader Tzipi Livni, while the aforementioned Lapid takes pains to ensure that he’s no leftist and doesn’t anyway seem very interested in the Palestinian question. Likud itself is moving to the right, with very few MKs left of the party’s historical pragmatic wing, and one shouldn’t forget Yisrael Beiteinu party leader and Israel’s current Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who remains just as strong at the polls despite a maximalist, far-right agenda.
The new Knesset will also represent the failure of the two-state solution as a political platform. While in theory there is a virtual consensus around the need to establish a Palestinian state, there is no longer any Knesset members who remain its passionate advocates, like Yossi Beilin or Shimon Peres used to be. The intellectual conversation has shifted its attention to the one-state solution. Though this idea is still widely denounced and opposed as a theoretical solution, the new Knesset could mark the first definitive break by moving the political conversation into firmly one-state territory, if only as a by-product of having killed off all other possible alternatives.
Until then, the Israeli parliament will continue to reflect a Jewish public which has lost interest in resolving the Palestinian question and which is likely to support any political or military action deemed necessary to sustain the status quo. For Israelis, the occupation is a non-issue and will continue to be so as long as the military is able to hold back any local Palestinian resistance, the prime minister is successful in resisting continued diplomatic pressure and regional isolation, and the internal and external boycott movement remains marginal.