The Real Reason There Is No Palestinian State

For over a decade, elite opinion in the West has been warning that Israel, through its actions, is slowly making the two-state solution impossible, or that the “window” for such an arrangement is “closing” unless Israel takes some dramatic action. More recently, we have heard that the U.S., by moving its embassy to that part of Jerusalem that has been under Israeli control since 1948, has somehow made Palestinian statehood less likely. These dire warnings omit the simple fact that it was Palestinian leaders who have prevented the emergence of a Palestinian state, as Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf write:

Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), walked away . . . from Ehud Barak’s [July 2000] proposal at Camp David, and he walked away from President Clinton’s proposal which set the parameters for peace.

The overriding Palestinian demand, more important than the explicit demand of statehood, has always been the innocuous sounding right of return—the demand for millions of Palestinians, descendants of those who fled or were expelled in the 1948 war, to be recognized as possessing an individual “right” to settle inside the state of Israel. . . . What this means is that when Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the [current] head of the Palestinian Authority, spoke of their support for a two-state solution, they actually envisioned two Arab states: one in the West Bank and Gaza, and another one to replace Israel.

The refusal on the part of the international community to engage these simple truths is telling. In 1947, the British foreign minister Ernst Bevin summarized the essence of the conflict in the British Mandate territory as boiling down to the fact that the Jews want a state in the land, and the Arabs want the Jews not to have a state in the land. He has only been proven right ever since. More than the Palestinians wanted a state for themselves, they still want the Jewish people not to have their own state in the land, in any borders.

Read more at Forward

More about: Ehud Barak, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian refugees, Two-State Solution, Yasir Arafat


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount