Here’s a poll you will not see covered in your daily paper, because it throws the real cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into uncomfortably stark relief: Asked whether they agreed with President Barack Obama’s statement that “there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people,” only 34 percent said yes; 61 percent disagreed. Moreover, a whopping 66 percent said the Palestinians’ goal should not be a permanent two-state solution, but a two-state solution as an interim stage en route to the ultimate goal of a single Palestinian state in all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – a goal that amply explains their opposition to recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland.
This was a serious poll, conducted by American pollster Stanley Greenberg and the Beit Sahour-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion by means of face-to-face interviews in Arabic with 1,010 adults in the West Bank and Gaza. And the findings only get worse. As the Jerusalem Post reported:
Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92 percent said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1 percent said the capital of Israel, 3 percent the capital of both, and 4 percent a neutral international city.
Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62 percent supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53 percent were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.
When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80 percent agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.
All these findings contradict the accepted wisdom that the root of the problem is Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza, so if Israel would just raze
the settlements, peace would break out tomorrow. Withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza won’t help if Palestinians don’t accept the existence of a Jewish
state in any borders and see the two-state solution as a mere stepping-stone toward the ultimate goal of Israel’s eradication – exactly as prescribed by the PLO’s famous Phased Plan of 1974, which called for establishing a “Palestinian national authority” in any territory available and then using it as a base for “completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory.” It seems for most Palestinians, almost 20 years of peace talks haven’t changed this ultimate goal one whit.
This is the root of the conflict and has been ever since Britain first backed a “national home for the Jewish people” in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It’s why no
Palestinian leader has ever been able to say “yes” to any Israeli offer – and never will be able to, no matter how much the offer is improved, unless this changes. Until the international community recognizes this and starts working to change Palestinian public opinion, the “peace process” will continue to be mere wasted effort.