Commentary Magazine


And Now for Some News from Realityland

One of the more annoying tendencies of Western commentators on the Middle East is their desperate insistence that the Palestinians have long since accepted the “two-state solution,” and the only obstacle to the success of the peace process is smoothing over minor differences on Jerusalem, borders, settlements, and so on.

Of course, in reality, there is no Palestinian consensus on peaceful coexistence with Israel — not even close. But that doesn’t stop, say, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg (to take one of many examples) from saying this:

But decades of harsh occupation have made dispossessed Palestinians, the majority of whom have long favored a two-state solution, the sympathetic victims in the conflict. [emphasis added]

Where does Weisberg get this information? He of course doesn’t say. There’s no need to be coy — lots of opinion polling is done in the Palestinian territories. Indeed, a new survey, conducted by An-Najah University in Nablus, has just been released.

Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?

Yes 28.3
No 66.7
No opinion/I do not know 5.0

Do you support or reject making Jerusalem a capital for two states: Palestine and Israel?

I support 20.8
I reject 77.4
No opinion/I do not know 1.8

Et tu, Weisberg?

There is some good news, however, that also punctures an unfounded liberal conviction — that Israeli military action against Hamas only galvanizes Palestinian opinion in favor of the “resistance.” In reality, Hamas is more unpopular than ever:

As you know, there is a government in the West Bank led by Salam Fayyad and another government in the Gaza Strip led by Ismail Haniyeh. In your opinion which government is more capable of managing the internal Palestinian affairs?

The government of Salam Fayyad 63.6
The Government of Ismail Haniyeh 20.1
No opinion/I do not know 16.3

How do you assess the performance of the government of Salam Fayyad?

Good 65.4
Bad 26.3
No opinion/I do not know 8.3

How do you assess the performance of the government of Ismail Haniyeh?

Good 31.2
Bad 45.3
No opinion/I do not know 23.4

The good news is that the Palestinians have seen what Islamist governance entails, and like most Arabs who have had the experience, they don’t particularly like it. The bad news is that the Palestinians, unfortunately, remain utterly divided on the question of the peace process and coexistence with Israel.