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

The Military Perils of Ceding Israeli Control of the West Bank

April 24 2019

In the years since the second intifada ended, no small number of retired high-ranking IDF officers and intelligence officials have argued that complete separation from the Palestinians is a strategic necessity for Israel. Gershon Hacohen, analyzing the geography, the changes in warfare—and Middle Eastern warfare in particular—since the 1990s, and recent history, argues that they are wrong:

The withdrawal of IDF forces from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state in these territories will constitute an existential threat to Israel. The absence of an Israeli military presence in the West Bank, especially along the Jordan River, will enable the creation of a terrorist entity, à la the Gaza Strip, a stone’s throw from the Israeli hinterland. This withdrawal will box Israel into indefensible borders, especially in light of the major changes in the nature of war in recent decades that have made the astounding achievements of 1967 impossible to replicate, not to mention the stark international response [that would follow Israel’s] takeover of a sovereign state.

The deployment of international forces in the West Bank will not, [contrary to what some have argued], ensure the demilitarization of the prospective Palestinian state, let alone prevent the entry of Arab forces into its territory (with or without its consent) and/or its transformation into a springboard for terrorist attacks against Israel. . . .

Israel [now] maintains control of some 60 percent of the West Bank’s territory, . . . which is mostly empty of Palestinian population but includes all of the West Bank’s Jewish communities and IDF bases, as well as main highways, vital topographic areas, and open spaces descending eastward to the Jordan Valley. The retention of this territory constitutes the absolute minimum required for the preservation of defensible borders and meets two conditions necessary for Israel’s security: the Jordan Valley buffer zone, without which it will be impossible to prevent the rapid arming of Palestinian terrorist groups throughout the West Bank; and control of intersecting transportation arteries, which, together with control of strategic topographical sites, enables rapid deployment of IDF forces deep inside Palestinian areas.

It is the surrender of such conditions in Gaza that has transformed the Strip into an ineradicable terrorist entity. Uprooting the West Bank’s Jewish communities will also make it difficult for the IDF to operate in the depth of the Palestinian state, especially if it is forced to fight simultaneously on a number of fronts, [since] simultaneous fighting in Gaza, which will be an integral part of the future Palestinian state, is a foregone conclusion.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security, Palestinian statehood, West Bank