Secretary Kerry, Israeli Ministers and many others, well-wishers as well as fear-mongers, warned that if the Israeli-Palestinian talks failed, there is no telling to what may happen. The good news is, that as yet nothing significant, definitely nothing calamitous has happened. The less good news is, that in the Middle East, as in the Middle East, things can happen quickly and surprisingly. Never say never...
From an Israeli perspective, the untimely end of the talks has brought the expected usual blend of reactions, ranging from the overt joy that yet another round of talks yielded no results, enabling Naftali Benett, the rising star of the right wing to come out saying "I told you so," while Minister Tzipi Livni, nominally in charge of the talks, can publicly lament the missed opportunity, engaging herself in a verbal fist fight with P.M Netanyahu and Benett.
On the Palestinian side, the two factions of Fatah and Hamas continue to proceed with the implementation of the unity agreement, one of the events which helped derailing whatever little chance there was to achieve any Israeli-Palestinian progress. So, nothing new in the Israeli-Palestinian front and all is almost quiet...
The Israeli side seems to be relaxed, that is if we put aside minister Livni, and this is so for two main reasons; First, the Palestinian unity agreement played to the hands of P.M Netanyahu , as it removed any meaningful domestic pressure to make big concessions to the Palestinian Authority[PA], as advocated initially by Minister Lapid, who is by far more important politically than Livni is.
He publicly, unequivocally declares that Palestinian unity with Hamas included in the government is a nonstarter for him. Netanyahu can just feel happy that Abbas delivered him the unity agreement on a silver plate, as if to give him the ONE good reason enabling him to explain convincingly to the Israeli public why the talks had no chance of success. Public opinion polls in Israel surely indicate that the Israeli public responds as desired by Netanyahu.
But then there is another, very significant reason explaining general Israeli indifference to the failure of this round of talks. Contrary to doomsday predictions about Israel's growing international isolation and the impact of boycotts and the BDS movement, the reality as opposed to wishful thinking is that Israel is enjoying a honeymoon so far as its international standing is concerned.
The new P.M in India is Narendra Modi, the leader of the BJP who has been for years a great supporter of Israel. This is India, with its burgeoning economy, which became a good market for Israeli goods already before, and judging by Mr. Modi's past record, is going to dramatically increase its trade relations with Israel, as well as its diplomatic support.
Then there is China. The intensity of high-level contacts between the two countries is a sure sign, that the Chinese economy is gaining by exchanges with Israel. Just few days ago, the largest food company in Israel was purchased by the second largest food company in China.
And there is also Japan, where P.M Netanyahu just concluded a successful visit, in which the Japanese government declared its readiness to improve relations with Israel, including security relations. Last but not least, there is Intel Corporation, which announced an added investment
of 6 billion dollars in its plant in Kiryat Gat in Israel. They did not ask permission from the BDS movement, they surely know why...
Add up so many high-level visits, not least that just concluded by Pope Francis who visited Israel, the PA and Jordan and by displaying his warm and skilful approach, won a lot of sympathy in the Jewish state. Netanyahu's very busy schedule of anticipated visits abroad should also be mentioned and the picture is clear.
Israel is not isolated, the BDS movement is a failure, and even the Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake think so, and they go ahead with their visits in Israel, in defiance of people like Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), who propagate for a boycott of Israel. Well it does not work. Why will not this aging singer do what he knows better, and that is to sing?...
So, is it all rosy and cozy for Israel? We saw the pros, but what about the cons?
The biggest problem is the fact that large parts of Likud as well as Benett view recent developments as a license to make no changes in Israel's policy. Particularly they are keen on continuing and intensifying the expansion and construction of settlements. A huge mistake, as even ardent supporters of Israel are opposed to the settlements policy of the current government, and rejecting boycotts of Israel, even increasing trade relations with her, are not serving as a validation of the settlements policy.
Beyond this, the Netanyahu government will need every iota of good will that can be mobilized when the talks will resume, and they will, not necessarily according to the American timetable, but when it will simultaneously be in tune with the interests of Israel and the Palestinians.
And even when the talks are stalled, the Israelis can take unilateral steps, not the big ones that Netanyahu and Benett may have in mind, but still such steps like unilateral release of prisoners (not those with blood on their hands), which will give enough incentive to the PA to reign in on the militants which want to create another Intifada. This is in Abbas interest to do that, and so Netanyahu's, as help from him will be useful.