What Palestinians Want

July 10 2020

In an extensive report on a major survey of Palestinian public opinion, David Pollock sums up his key findings. Above all, the results suggest that large numbers of Palestinians are willing to make compromises with Israel in the short term, but tend to harbor maximalist, even militant, long-term goals:

In recent years, Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank/eastern Jerusalem have generally become both more pessimistic and less reconciled to the prospect of peace with Israel. The two-state solution has minority support. . . . This is the case amid insistent messaging from both Fatah and Hamas emphasizing their claim to “all of historic Palestine”—meaning the end of Israel as a separate state.

Majorities, [however], support various specific forms of economic cooperation with Israel even now. Substantial minorities also back certain specific, highly controversial concessions, even on “permanent-status” issues, in order to achieve a two-state solution some day: namely, ceding the refugee “right of return” to Israel, or recognizing it as “the homeland of the Jewish people.” Most recently, . . . majorities of Palestinians even support resuming negotiations with Israel without preconditions. And they opposed their own governments’ diplomatic boycott of Washington and preemptive rejection of the “Trump peace plan.”

The public is also split over continuing bonus payments to prisoners [held by Israel for committing acts of terror], rather than united behind this provocative policy, as Palestinian officials often claim. In all these ways, there is a clear—if often overlooked—divide between elite and “street” opinion, with Palestinian publics notably more moderate than their political leaders.

Majorities in Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem increasingly say that a two-state solution should not mean the end of conflict with Israel. Rather, around 60 percent would opt to continue the struggle to “liberate all of historic Palestine.” Reinforcing this point, around the same proportion now also say that any compromise with Israel should be only temporary.

[Yet] there is no evidence that the negative trend on permanent peace is inexorable. On the contrary, the larger point is that Palestinian attitudes are not static or impervious to influence, whether from within or without.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Palestinian public opinion, Palestinians, Two-State Solution

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

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