Israeli elections ballot papers
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen on the floor with Likud party ballots Reuters/Amir Cohen

Benjamin Netanyahu's statements both in person and on social media in the run up to Tuesday's election appeared increasingly shrill as the campaign went on, but there is no doubt that it was his appealing to right wing fears about terrorism, security and Israel's Arab population that rallied enough votes to achieve a comfortable victory over his rivals.

Netanyahu is a staunch right winger and no stranger to making controversial and divisive statements on the Palestinian issue – not least during the recent war in Gaza and the violence in Jerusalem that preceded it – but his pledges in the final days of the Likud campaign went further than the usual nationalistic, anti-Arab rabble rousing.

His ruling out the establishment of a Palestinian state is the first time he has publicly shunned what the international community considers the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and contradicts both his own previous statements on the issue and the official goal of decades of peace talks, many of which Netanyahu has been involved in.

Equally it was Netanyahu's public spat with US President Barack Obama that intensified the anyone-but-Bibi (as Netanyahu is known Israel) campaign and led to criticisms by senior Mossad figures and former allies. With Netanyahu potentially facing four more years as prime minister, how will be rebuild Israel's relationship with the Obama administration.

Dimi Reider, co-editor of Israel +972 magazine and a well-known journalist, believes that the two issues are connected – and will continue to be under Netanyahu's fourth term. Bibi's actions over the past few years had already upset Europe enough to intensify a swell of pro-Palestinian sentiment, by alienating Obama and coming about against a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has only served to increase Israel's isolation.

'Netanyahu will struggle to live down the comments he made in the last 24 hours.'
Dimi Reider, 972

"Netanyahu will struggle to live down the comments he made in the last 24 hours. Much of Israel's standing in the world, especially in Europe, hinges on commitment to a two-state solution - no matter how nominal. Disavowing it will boost those pushing for greater political and economic pressure on Israel, or at least against any preferential treatment, especially in tightly regulated trade and research co-operations in Europe," he said.

That pressure is already growing. Last year France came out in support of a Palestinian state and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) is growing louder in its calls for economic sanctions on Israel, even if Israeli trade officials argue that it is having little effect on actual trade between Europe and the country. Amit Lang, director general of the Israeli Ministry of the Economy, told IBTimesUK last week that BDS only "made a lot of noise".

"It is sexy. But at the end of the day if you have a good product, businessmen want to make money... I have not seen a deal that was [abandoned] because of the BDS. I see the numbers and they speak for themselves," he said.

Netanyahu's comments in recent days, which included a tirade against Arab voters and accusations of a foreign conspiracy to topple him, undoubtedly won him votes in the dying hours of Tuesday's poll. It will have only strengthened his links with the Israeli right, with whom he is currently trying to make a coalition deal - his former ally and pro-settlement foreign minister Avignor Lieberman has gone a great deal further than Bibi in his views about Arabs.

But it is to the international arena that Netanyahu will look once he has cemented his government in the Knesset, not least for the estimated US$3 billion that America contributes to Israel in aid per year.

Then there is the trade links and US support at the UN, where it is the only permanent member of the Security Council willing to persistently veto moves by European nations to recognise a Palestinian state. With Palestine joining the International Criminal Court at the end of last year, US support will be all the more crucial to Israel.

'The rhetorical embrace [of two states] at least allowed one to maintain the make-believe of having a peace process.'
Daniel Levy, ECFR

Netanyahu's public opposition to Obama's legacy project – a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme – and his snub of the US leader by speaking to the US Congress despite his objections mean that relations between Tel Aviv and Washington are at their lowest ebb for decades. His comments on the two-state solution – which the US remains committed to – will make his credibility as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians minimal.

"Towards end of campaign Netanyahu disavowed his rhetorical embrace of two states. That rhetoric never translated into anything in practice - in fact Netanyahu's policies guaranteed the impossibility of two states and peace - but the rhetorical embrace at least allowed one to maintain the make-believe of having a peace process," said Daniel Levy, at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

For the Palestinians, Netanyahu's comments have only confirmed what they already believed when the peace process broke down last year – that the prime minister has no intention of negotiating a Palestinian state anywhere close to the 1967 borders, and on the contrary will only seek to increase settlement activity in the West Bank to boost his standing on the right.

It will only push Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas towards further unilateral moves to the UN and increase support amongst Palestinians for Islamist groups such as Hamas, which is already undermining the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The PA has always argued that their negotiated peace was an alternative to violence – with one speech and a narrow election victory, Netanyahu has put paid to that.

"Now, more than ever, the international community must act. It must rally behind Palestinian efforts to internationalise our struggle for dignity and freedom through the International Criminal Court and through all other peaceful means," said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Little surprise, then, that some feel Netanyahu will look to "row back" on his views about the two-state solution once the post-election chaos has subsided and Likud and whatever partners they have in government by then begin to govern.

'His open hostility to Arab voters [...] sounds a lot more like Governor George Wallace than like Winston Churchill'
Dimi Reider, 972

Equally he will want to re-build bridges with Israeli Arabs and the left - his reference to wanting to work "for all citizens of Israel, Jews and non-Jews" in his victory speech perhaps attests to that - if only to make sure he doesn't totally alienate his supporters in the US.

"His open hostility to Arab voters [...] sounds a lot more like Governor George Wallace than like Winston Churchill [and] will make it even more difficult for the overwhelmingly Democrat American Jews to keep supporting Israeli policies. It will be interesting to see whether and how he intends to row back on these comments," said Reider.