A dramatic election in which the exit polls inaccurately guessed the outcome has finally drawn to a close. After a shock victory it now looks as if Benjamin Netanyahu will serve another term as Prime Minister of Israel. This will be his third consecutive term in office and if he serves until 2019, he will become the longest serving leader in Israeli history. Up until the close of the polling stations, it looked as if Netanyahu’s time was up. But a huge push in the last few hours from his Likud Party to reach voters of the right seemed to be enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Relations with the West have suffered in recent months after Israel’s ever hardening stance towards Iran and the non-existent peace process with the Palestinians. It is very likely that Netanyahu this time around will run into a lot more obstacles with the US and European allies as Israel becomes more and more isolated. The horrific war in Gaza last summer led to outcries and the conflict has brought the region no closer to peace, if anything it is a more distant prospect than ever before.

Hours before the polls closed, exit polls showed that Likud and the Zionist Union were neck and neck on 24 seats each. This would have meant that either party would have had the initiative to attempt to form a coalition. However, in the end Likud stormed ahead to pick up 30 seats, around a quarter of the total. Zionist Union, a leftist coalition of the Labour Party and Hatnuah is run by Isaac Herzog, son of the former Israeli President Chaim Herzog who held the office between 1983 and 1993. Zionist Union was also co-founded by Tzipi Livni who was the leader of the opposition between 2009-2012.

It is unlikely at this moment in time that any Israeli political party will come up with the necessary policies that will achieve a lasting peace. However the Zionist Union Party would have been the more likely of the two biggest parties to make the alliances needed to secure the long-term future of Israel and reignite the peace process. The election of Herzog to form a coalition would have provided fresh impetus for Israel to mend the frayed bonds with the Obama administration. One of their core policies was to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authorities which have currently been hampered by Netanyahu’s Gaza offensive last summer which left over 2,000 civilians dead. When Netanyahu realised he was going to lose the election on the final day of voting, a desperate pitch to voters was made by voicing his opposition to a Palestinian state on a number of radio stations. This was the first time he had ever categorically stated this opinion yet it worked in winning some voters over from the other centre and right-wing parties.

It is this move which shows a direct contradiction between Obama’s policy of dialogue and mediation and that of the next Israeli Government. Netanyahu may be on a high currently, but within a few weeks he will realise frosty relations with Obama will do Israel more harm than good. Israel needs America and has them to thank for their existence and to this day relies on them for military training and funding.

Every month more and more nations across the world are ditching their support for Israel. Just last year Sweden voted to recognise Palestine as an independent state and in December the European Parliament passed motion doing the same thing. Other policies on a two-state solution look as if they will not happen under the new government. Foreign analysts believe that in order for Israel to keep West Bank settlements, the state would have to cede Arab lands in the north of Israel to any new Palestinian state. This would seem more than feasible but given Netanyahu’s record he would never allow this to happen in any circumstance much to the ire of Obama.

The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu was a sad day for the Middle East and the wrong choice for Israelis. The rejection of a two-state solution is a huge tactical mistake and one that was intended for short-term purposes or in other words, to win an election. The next few months will see the deterioration of relations between Israel and the West. Netanyahu will continue his tough stance on Iran and Palestine and in the process alienate his country and its people even further. This election result will prove to have been a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

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