Palestine leaders warn of renewed conflict after Netanyahu’s election win

Enclave’s chief negotiator says results prove ‘that we don’t have a peace partner’

Palestinian children play next to buildings destroyed during last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas-led militants in Gaza City’s al-Shejaiya neighborhood. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images.

Palestinian leaders warned of renewed conflict after Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu snatched election victory from defeat by campaigning against a two-state solution.

Mr Netanyahu's Likud party emerged well ahead of main rival Zionist Union, which is more supportive of peace talks, in Tuesday's parliamentary election.

Mr Netanyahu was trailing for much of the campaign, and on its final day he appealed to voters who share his skepticism toward the peace process by ruling out a Palestinian state at this time.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the elections results proved “that we don’t have a peace partner.”


In remarks on official Voice of Palestine Radio, Mr Erekat said the Palestinians would intensify diplomatic efforts to isolate Israel in the international arena, pursue war crimes charges against it, and proceed with plans to end cooperation between their security forces.

“If the US is serious about peace, then it should pressure Israel,” he said. “The whole world now should provide protection to the Palestinian people, including the US and the American Congress.”

In the Gaza Strip, Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas official, said the projected election results "clearly show the increase of radicalism in dealing with the Palestinians."

H e said the outcome "should be enough to convince the Palestinian Authority and Fatah party to forget about the choice of keeping up the absurd negotiations, pay attention to the internal unity and reconciliation and rearrange the Palestinian house instead of betting on a mirage."

Fatah and the PA, which controls the West Bank, engaged with Israel in the US-brokered peace talks that collapsed in April last year. Hamas, which rules Gaza and is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the US and European Union, is opposed to negotiations.

The two rival Palestinian groups have sought to bury their differences in the past year. The peace impasse has added to strains between Mr Netanyahu and the US, which was unusually critical of Israel’s role in the breakdown of talks. Israeli negotiators said Palestinian intransigence was to blame.

Mr Herzog and some other opposition groups accused Mr Netanyahu during the campaign of endangering ties with Israel's main ally.