The two-state solution: one nation decides

As right-wingers gain support, the Israeli election could end hopes for peace talks

Jerusalem

Israelis go to the polls tomorrow for an election that could deliver one of the most right-wing governments in the Jewish state's history and deal a heavy blow to moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's alliance between his Likud party and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party is tipped to win. But, for the first time, the coalition government that emerges in the days and weeks after the vote is also likely to include parties openly hostile to the peace process, including the Jewish Home party, led by the hawkish Naftali Bennett.

He has campaigned as the only party leader who does not believe in the two-state solution. His view is today's "imperfect" situation is better than allowing a viable Palestinian state.

Relations between Israelis and Palestinians are at one of their lowest ebbs, with the key issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank – regarded as occupied territory by the international community – one of the major sticking points. Although the Likud-Beiteinu alliance is expected to take the most seats in parliament, the Knesset, final opinion polls on Friday showed a drop in the number it is likely to win. Support has been sapped partly by Jewish Home, but about 15 per cent of voters say they remain undecided.

In an attempt to shore up support, Mr Netanyahu took up the nationalist pro-settler rhetoric, telling the Maariv newspaper: "The days when bulldozers uprooted Jews are behind us, not in front of us. We haven't uprooted any settlements, we have expanded them. Nobody has any lessons to give me about love for the Land of Israel or commitment to Zionism and the settlements." He also promised that the next Israeli government would not dismantle any existing settlements.

In response to the Palestinians winning a vote on statehood at the UN General Assembly in November, the Israeli government has said it will start the process of settlement building in E1, an area of the West Bank. In the past week, Palestinian activists have responded by establishing two tented camps in areas earmarked for construction, in the hope of establishing so-called "facts on the ground" – a term used to take account of realities such as settlements when negotiating potential land swaps in any final deal.

At one camp – Bab Al-Karama, or "Gate Of Dignity" – in the West Bank village of Beit Iksa, Mahmoud al-Aloul, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, and someone who is close to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told The Independent: "Israel behaves as [Beit Iksa] is its land and we are the strangers here – we want to live in our own land. This is a new initiative that has been adopted as a strategy by the [Palestinian Authority] leadership. It is now part of the popular struggle to confront Israeli violations and settlements."

Saleem, a 20-year-old construction worker and volunteer at the camp, was building a small mosque from breeze blocks. He was adamant the protests would continue, saying: "Even if the Israelis come and destroy it, I'll come back and build it again."

His mettle may well be tested. According to reports, Israeli troops had arrived at the camp yesterday, told activists to knock the mosque down and were stopping supporters from crossing a nearby checkpoint.

It is not just on the ground the peace process appears stalled. There have been no direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials since 2010. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate while settlement-building continues, and Israelis insist that the PA must agree to a prerequisite that any future Palestinian state is demilitarised.

On an international level, too, there has been little progress. In his more than five years as Middle East peace envoy, Tony Blair has achieved little, and the main broker between the two sides, the United States, has become frustrated.

Despite the runes spelling a precarious period for the peace process, there are those that are hopeful for the future. "There is no distinction between the left and right blocs, there is a will for a two-state solution," says Sharon Savariego, a 26-year-old from Rishon Letzion, who works in Israel's booming tech industry.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test