Bibi's re-election actually changed nothing about peace in the Middle East
As everyone by now knows, Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off an upset in the Israeli elections, winning another mandate at prime minister by a surprisingly decisive margin. In the last desperate days of the campaign, when his chances of victory seemed bleak, he announced his opposition to a two-state solution.
Cue the freakout. Israel is turning into a rogue state! Israel is headed for Apartheid!
It's time for everybody to calm down and take a deep breath.
The Middle East is the Middle East. Things there are never "good." But they didn't get worse since Bibi was re-elected.
Let's take the peace process and two-state solution first. Whatever prospect the two-state solution might have in the grand fullness of time, anyone living on planet Earth should realize that it's not in the cards right now. The Palestinian Authority doesn't control its own territory, since Gaza is in the hands of Hamas, a genocidal group with whom there is no possibility of peace. And in the West Bank, the PA has been incapable of getting its house in order or beginning to offer the security guarantees that everyone agrees is a necessary precondition for any peace deal.
So the problem isn't that Bibi doesn't want peace. The problem isn't even that Abu Mazen, to use PA President Mahmoud Abbas's militant alias, doesn't want peace. The problem is that there's nobody on the Palestinian side who can hold up its end up of a peace deal. And that is simply that.
And the fledgling international movement to grant the Palestinian Authority recognition as a state in various international venues is a subversion of the peace process, which always envisaged Palestinian statehood as a carrot for the PA getting its house in order. Partisans of this movement reply that Israel subverted the peace process first by continuing its settlement activities in the West Bank. Maybe — but the point is that true Palestinian statehood, as it stands, is DOA whether or not Bibi is prime minister. That's the truth no one wants to acknowledge.
And this inexorable and tragic dynamic is the main cause (along with the Iranian gallop towards the bomb) of the much-commented-upon rightward turn in Israeli politics, the reason for Bibi's political longevity.
Anyone who has spent time in Israel, and has spoken with its political, military, and economic elites (of whatever political persuasion) knows that the vast majority of Israelis want peace, and that Israel would rush to sign a plausible peace deal the substance of which everyone knows and, in theory, accepts.
Meanwhile, Israel has been rebuffed again and again. Israelis still have to endure rockets, and still have to fear that their children will grow up (or not) under the shadow of a nuclear Iran.
This dynamic is part of what makes the Middle East such an, ah, special place. But it was there before Bibi and it will be there after Bibi. Like all other Israeli prime ministers, he is (obviously) a staunch partisan of Israel's interests as well as a supremely pragmatic tactician. He's reversed his stance on Palestinian statehood and other issues before, and he might do it again.
But that will depend on the politics of the Middle East, not on whether Bibi has cloven hoofs.