Palestinian Support for a Two-State Solution Is Declining

Examining several carefully conducted surveys of Palestinian public opinion from the past two years, David Pollock and Catherine Cleveland identify some disconcerting trends—along with some more encouraging ones.

Less than 40 percent of the Palestinian public—in the West Bank, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem—supports [a two-state solution] over one-state alternatives. Support for a two-state solution has declined steadily since 2018.

Further, most Palestinians believe that a two-state solution is unlikely to emerge from the conflict. Instead, a majority of them say they prefer to reclaim all of historic Palestine, including the pre-1967 Israel. A one-state solution with Arabs and Jews holding equal rights comes in second.

While the most recent . . . polls do suggest a spike in support for Hamas, [other] data . . . demonstrate some countervailing trends in Gaza. Since 2017 a small majority of Gazans have supported the idea that Hamas should “stop calling for Israel’s destruction, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.” Likewise, while support for this position in the West Bank has fluctuated, a notable 65 percent of West Bank respondents supported this view in 2020.

Even so, the sobering reality is that there is still no Palestinian popular majority that supports permanent peace with Israel, . . . even among the younger generation. Beyond the practical challenges of negotiating the final status of a two-state solution, real reconciliation remains a distant dream.

Read more at American Purpose

More about: Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian public opinion, Two-State Solution

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood