Almost Half of East Jerusalem’s Arabs Would Rather Be Citizens of Israel Than of Palestine

The 400,000 Arabs leaving in eastern Jerusalem have a unique status, which allows them to apply for—and usually obtain—Israeli citizenship if they so desire. According to a recent survey, 48 percent say they would rather be citizens of Israel than of a Palestinian state. Moreover, 63 percent agree at least “somewhat” with the assertion that they would be better off under Israel than under either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. David Pollock analyzes these and other data from the poll, which show surprisingly moderate attitudes toward the Jewish state and the Abraham Accords:

These striking findings represent a reversion to the pragmatic east Jerusalem attitudes last registered in 2014, before the “knife intifada,” rising tensions on the Temple Mount, and tough Israeli responses. The current more conciliatory mood probably reflects their recent experience of access to Israeli healthcare, social-welfare benefits, ability to travel both inside and outside Israel, and jobs during the past two years of coronavirus-related issues. By comparison, most Palestinians across the security barrier in the West Bank have none of those advantages.

Such comparatively moderate (or just apolitical) views emerge in response to many other questions in this new survey as well. For example, 62 percent agree with this statement: “Right now, the Palestinians should focus on practical matters like jobs, healthcare, education, and everyday stability, not on big political plans or resistance options.” The same proportion also agree that “right now, the Palestinians need to pay much more attention to countering extremist Islamic trends in our own society.” And a solid majority (65 percent) say that “the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is mostly just for politicians or old people, and I just don’t think about it very much.”

All these data points counter the impression of mass alienation and anger in east Jerusalem, especially since this survey was taken so soon after high Ramadan tensions there. In this context, it was likely helpful that this time, unlike in some earlier episodes, Israel allowed tens of thousands of mostly local Palestinian Muslims to pray peacefully at al-Aqsa and the surrounding plaza (al-Haram al-Sharif).

Still more surprising are the responses in east Jerusalem to other Arab governments, and to new moves toward broader Arab-Israeli rapprochement. Half (47 percent) of the city’s Palestinians express at least a “somewhat” favorable view of the Abraham Accords—compared with just one-fourth of West Bankers.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Abraham Accords, East Jerusalem, Palestinian statehood, Palestinians

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy