Recent Polls Suggest Many Palestinians Would Accept Compromises Unthinkable to Their Leaders

In two surveys by respected pollsters of Palestinians in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, surprising numbers of respondents expressed a willingness to make necessary compromises in exchange for statehood. David Pollock writes:

[T]he data suggest that a peace plan advancing Palestinian aspirations, even at the price of major concessions, would be accepted at the popular level—despite its likely rejection by both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. . . . Two-thirds of Gazans say Palestinians should accept that the “right of return” would not apply to Israel, but should only [allow Palestinians living abroad to settle in] the West Bank and Gaza, if that is the price of a Palestinian state. When asked about their own personal preferences, a mere 14 percent say they would “probably” want to move to Israel, even if they could. . . .

West Bankers are approximately evenly split on the suggestion that refugees not enter Israel. . . . But a mere 5 percent say they would probably move to Israel even if they could. Moreover, two-thirds would accept the permanent resettlement of diaspora Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza even if their families originated inside Israel. . . .

This essential (but rarely posed) question [in the survey] asks if a two-state solution should either (a) “end the conflict and open up a new chapter in Palestinian history,” or (b) “not end the conflict, and resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” West Bankers pick “end the conflict” by a sizable margin. . . . Meanwhile, Gazans are almost evenly split: 47 to 49 percent. East Jerusalem Palestinians, who maintain everyday contact with Israelis, decisively choose “end the conflict” by a margin of 73 to 22 percent.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian refugees, Palestinian statehood

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security