Saud Abu Ramadan
Xinhua (Analysis)
February 3, 2013 - 1:00am


Two weeks after the Israeli elections, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank feel a solution to their conflict with Israel is further away with incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likely to stay.

Although his Likud party shrank from 42 to 31 seats in the parliament after the vote, Netanyahu has been charged with forming the new government after the right wing parties in total won 61 seats, two more than the seats won by the centrist and left-wing parties combined.

While Hamas, Islamic Jihad (Holy War) and other left-wing Palestinians factions vowed unity and more radical resistance in light of the Israeli right win, the official comment from the Palestinian leadership was softer than expected.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said the criteria for dealing with the Israeli new government should be its commitment to the two-state solution and seriousness to the peace process. Other Palestinian officials said the in coming Israeli government should be judged by its policies rather than its composition.

For more than three years, the Palestinians have been accusing Netanyahu of anti-peace policies, mainly the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and neglecting their direct peace talks, which stopped in October 2010, only four weeks after it was re-launched in Washington under the U.S. sponsorship.

Samir Awad, a political science professor at Beir Zeit University in the West Bank, told Xinhua that Netanyahu should not be trusted "because he won't achieve any progress in the peace process."

"I believe that the Israeli people are misled by Netanyahu and the right wing leaders, who only focus on the expansion of settlements and spoil any peace opportunity," said Awad, addling the Israeli prime minister is good at "exporting Israel's internal crisis to the conflict with the Palestinians and with Iran."

Other Palestinian leaders and analysts said a centrist party led by prominent Israeli journalist Yair Lapid may have crucial impact on Netanyahu's formation of the new government.

Mekhemer Abu Se'da, a political science professor at al-Azhar University in Gaza, told Xinhua that he believes, according to the results of the Israeli parliamentary elections, "Netanyahu and all the right-wing groups won't be able to form a pure right-wing government in Israel."

"Netanyahu has been tasked by the president of Israel with forming the new government, and I think he is obliged to form a coalition government with centrist or even some left-wing parties, so there is hope that the peace talks with the Palestinians might be resumed," said Abu Se'da.

However, Palestinians still view Netanyahu as the main obstacle for reviving the peace process he said. "I don't think it is likely for Netanyahu, even if he forms a coalition government and mixes right-wing groups with centrist and left-wing groups, to make concessions on the issue of settlement construction and the two-state solution."

Regardless of the nature of the Israeli new government, Palestinian factions believe that international pressure and peaceful and armed resistance towards it as well as Palestinian internal unity can help achieve positive results in resolving their conflict with Israel.

Awad said the Palestinians should soon end their internal division "because the split is used by Netanyahu as an excuse for not resuming the peace process."

Nafez Azzam, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza told Xinhua that after the Israeli elections, his group doesn't see any big change in the Israeli political map. "We don't count at all on these results regardless of who will form the government; most probably, Netanyahu will."

"We don't count on this and we should count on ourselves and on our armed resistance. We should strengthen our internal front in order to be able to confront the incoming government," said Azzam. 


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