The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond didn’t mince his words. Israel, he said, was guilty of “what looks and feels like a deliberate attempt to sabotage the two-state-solution.”
The diplomat went on, claiming that the “window” for a two-state agreement is “closing”, and that this was down to Israeli “settlement patterns” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
And all this even before Netanyahu’s re-election as prime minister had been confirmed.
In fact, Hammond made the remarks in an interview conducted on the very day of the Israeli election, and just after the Likud leader had made it clear that, for as long as he was premier, he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.
After Netanyahu’s victory at the ballot box, one theme dominated the international fallout, perhaps best summarised by this Associated Press headline: “Israel likely headed toward conflict, isolation.”
Most significant was the reaction of Israel’s closest allies – including the US. Angered by Netanyahu’s explicit rejection of Palestinian statehood and incitement against Palestinian citizens, Obama administration officials, on and off the record, have made it clear that “you can’t unring the bell.”
Now the talk is of a “need to re-assess [the US’s] options” in light of Israel’s lack of commitment to a two-state solution. “There are policy ramifications for what he said”, commented one official – and Netanyahu’s efforts to row-back are cutting no ice in Washington.
But it’s not just the US – as another newswire story put it, Bibi’s “comments may have reinforced a belief in many world capitals that [he] isn’t serious about peace.” A case in point, former Swedish PM and diplomat Carl Bildt presumably spoke for many when he tweeted:
A new @netanyahu government in Israel risks profound crisis on Palestinian issue. Difficult to see any credible political path forward.
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) March 18, 2015
– Read more: Amongst Frustrated Allies, Patience Has Run out with Israel – Ben White, Middle East Monitor