18 april 2015, bibin there, done that

As the initial month's mandate approaches, we wait with trepidation for a new israeli government to be formed. We know already the prime minister will be the same man that played such a vile role in creating the atmosphere in which yitzchaq rabin, the last best chance for israeli-palestinian peace, was murdered in 1995 (see ...and that's how it ended). He held firm against the territorial compromise that peace required then, and he's held firm since, making something that was incredibly hard a generation ago virtually impossible now. This excellent diagram charts how israel has moved steadily from being a centre-left polity in the 1950s to a harder right one today. Bibi was on the far right of his party twenty years ago; today, he is its moderate anchor. It is hard not to see that somewhere in this period the final opportunity for a two-state solution passed, as the palestinians' grip on their ever-diminishing territory got ever less and israel's vested interest in keeping what they had ever greater. "We have no partner" became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as now there probably isn't. The respite in gaza came in september, yet there was no making hay while the sun shined. No plan, no progress; just more of israel and egypt's joint blockade: bankruptcy, bombast, blankets; broken, even as hamas surrendered control to the pa. Negotiations on re-opening the border have stopped entirely. Meanwhile the decades-long partnership with the pa that has more-or-less kept peace in the west bank has frayed to the thinnest thread, as bereft of even the pretence of a peace process palestine joined the international criminal court (which it has every right to do) and israel withholds the taxes it owes the pa and which maintain the whole edifice, pushing it towards bankruptcy and anarchy and leading it to withdraw security co-operation. Netanyahu maintains the possibility of a national unity government as a stick to beat his rightist coalition partners into submission with, but it's not hard to be assured that what will emerge will, again, be the most rightwing government israel has ever had. Alas, it will likely also be one of its most stable, and in september 2018 netanyahu would tellingly surpass david ben gurion to become israel's longest-serving pm. What an epitaph to what was once such an astounding civilisational beacon. An opportune time to take stock of these last years.