Most Palestinians Want to Cooperate with Israel to Fight the Coronavirus

Examining recent survey data, David Pollock comments on Palestinian perceptions of the current pandemic:

A reliable Palestinian . . . poll taken last week shows that two-thirds of the public in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem state their support for “cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent the spread of coronavirus.” This proportion is significantly higher than the roughly half of the Palestinians who reported supporting economic cooperation with Israel in another poll conducted by the same organization as recently as mid-February.

At the same time, however, the new poll demonstrates the lure of conspiracy theories surrounding this plague: 47 percent of Palestinians reported that they “believe a foreign power or other force is deliberately causing the spread of coronavirus.” The other half (51 percent) say it is “a natural mutation.”

[T]he Palestinian public gave local authorities fairly good marks for handling this crisis so far, which can help explain the relatively calm situation there. Two-thirds rated the performance of their public-health authorities as “very good” (24 percent) or “good” (43 percent). A narrower majority said the same about “the performance of the security services in controlling matters and not causing panic and fear among the Palestinian public at present”: 23 percent categorized the performance as “very good,” along with 39 percent who say just “good.”

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Coronavirus, Palestinian public opinion

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy