When Palestinians Look to the Future, What Do They See?

In the last six weeks, nineteen Israelis have been killed in terror attacks, and Israeli authorities expect the violence to continue. Danielle Pletka argues that “there is no one theme, no one group that can claim responsibility.” To get to the root of the problem, she suggests, Washington should shift its focus from attempting to identify particular sponsors of Palestinian terror or falling back on conventional peace-process solutions. Instead, policymakers should examine the specific problems facing Palestinians and the ways in which they interpret these challenges.

First, what do Palestinians believe? Fine work by both the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the veteran Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki lay bare part of the trouble. Almost half of Palestinians polled believe “armed struggle” is the solution to their problems. Fully 58 percent oppose a two-state solution; 70 percent oppose “unconditional return to negotiations with Israel”; almost as many oppose dialogue with the United States. Most troubling of all, “73 percent believe the Quran contains a prophecy about the demise of the state of Israel, but only 32 percent think the year for this demise is 2022.” Yikes, “only” 32 percent (and it’s already May!).

Another source of trouble is the Palestinian economy: vulnerable before COVID and uniquely dependent on foreign assistance, Palestinians endured a dramatic economic downturn, job losses and a continued contraction of aid inflows—per the World Bank from “27 percent of GDP in 2008 to 1.8 percent in 2021.” There has been some post-COVID recovery, with the unemployment rate reportedly “bouncing back” to around (a still unfathomable) 25 percent in the West Bank and Gaza, though it is likely substantially higher in Gaza. Among younger people, the story is starker.

There is a growing sense among Palestinians that they are being left behind by history. Israel has made peace with four Arab states in the last two years, and will likely ink additional agreements before too long—with or without encouragement from Washington. “Palestine” the cause has lost its luster among all but the most extreme of governments. Should it be any surprise that without work, without economic security, without political and civil society, and with incessant governmental encouragement to kill and glorification of murder, young men turn to violence? It doesn’t excuse it, but it helps to explain it.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian public opinion, Palestinian terror

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy