Commentary Magazine


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Polling the Peace Process

Back in 2006, as Condoleezza Rice sought to overcome the “sequentiality” of the Road Map and proceed immediately to final status negotiations, Cal Thomas asked what evidence she had that if Palestinians had a state, they would not simply “complete the mission of killing the Jews and throwing them out.”  The Secretary of State responded by citing opinion polls:

Well, you can look at any opinion poll in the Palestinian territories and 70 percent of the people will say they’re perfectly ready to live side by side with Israel because they just want to live in peace.

It wasn’t true then, and a new poll released yesterday offers further reason to doubt it.

In the joint poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) and the Truman Research Institute at Hebrew University, Palestinians were asked the following:

There is a proposal that after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute, including the refugees and Jerusalem issues, there will be a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Do you agree or disagree to this proposal?

The percentage of Palestinians agreeing to recognize two states for two peoples — after settlement of “all issues in dispute” — is only 49.8 percent (of whom only 5.6 percent “definitely agree”).

Three months ago, PCPSR and the Truman Institute polled a specific two-state solution — patterned on the 2000 Clinton Parameters, but modified to cover 100% of the West Bank.  A total of 57% of Palestinians disagreed with the following proposal (edited here for space):

A state in Gaza and more than 97% of the West Bank, with equal land from Israel for the other 2+%; a “strong security force” and an international force to protect the state and monitor its borders (but no army); a capital in East Jerusalem; sovereignty over all Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and all of the Old City, other than the Jewish Quarter and the “Wailing Wall;” an unlimited “right of return” for refugees to the new state; compensation for all refugees for their “refugeehood” and loss of property; an “end of conflict” statement; and recognition of Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples.

The above proposal goes beyond what Israel is likely ever to endorse, since it does not (among other things) provide for defensible borders, which the U.S. has formally promised Israel multiple times.  Together with the new poll, however, it indicates that — whether framed as a comprehensive proposal effectively covering the entire West Bank or framed simply as an abstract matter (a Palestinian state and settlement of “all issues”) — the two-state solution does not command the approval of a majority of Palestinians.