From reading the Western press—or, for that matter, the Israeli press—one would imagine that most Palestinians see Israeli construction in the West Bank as one of the primary threats to their wellbeing and would furiously and perhaps violently protest a move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But a recent poll suggests very different priorities, writes David Pollock, and even gives some reasons for hope:
The most startling finding concerns the bonuses the Palestinian Authority (PA) pays to convicted terrorists. . . . The PA has claimed that popular pressure compels it to persist in this practice. In fact, the survey shows that two-thirds of Palestinians think “the PA should give prisoners’ families normal social benefits like everybody else, not extra payments based on their sentences or armed operations.” . . . .
Similarly, on the controversial issue of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian public is less militant than its leaders. In the West Bank . . . the majority (56 percent) say this issue is “not so important” or even “not important at all.” Gazans are more opposed; but just one-quarter of them label moving the U.S. embassy a “very important” issue. . . .
Equally revealing are the answers to this question: “What is the one thing you’d most like the U.S. to do about the Palestinian issues these days?” A plurality of West Bankers pick “put pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to be more democratic and less corrupt”—more than those who prefer “pressure on Israel to make concessions” or “increased economic aid to the Palestinians.” Among Gazans, economic aid comes first. . . . Moreover, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza continue to prioritize their personal lives over politics. . . . And significantly, concerning Hamas, most Palestinians now seek to defuse its conflict with Israel. . . .
None of this means, [however], that the Palestinian public endorses Israel’s legitimacy. Indeed, the percentage who say that “Jews have some rights to this land” is only in the single digits. Yet while most deny Israel’s right to exist, most accept the necessity to coexist.