Views of Palestinians give reason for hope in Mideast peace talks
Skeptics see Palestinians as committed to violent resistance and unwilling to recognize the state of Israel. In fact, more than 20 years of polling data strongly refute these perceptions, and give leaders in Ramallah substantial room to maneuver in the ongoing peace talks.
Ramallah, West Bank; and Jerusalem
Secretary of State John Kerry has succeeded in bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations. Now his mission must focus on helping the two sides reach an agreement. Many Israelis and Palestinians and their supporters in the United States and around the world believe the gaps are so wide that an agreement is mission impossible. Instead, they say, the goal should be to manage the conflict. We disagree.Skip to next paragraph
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Skeptics among Israelis and their American supporters, with counterparts on the Palestinian side as well, see Palestinians as committed to violent resistance, as seeking to destroy the state of Israel, and as being uniform, unwavering, and unjustified in their seeming hostility to Israel. Israelis have a succinct saying to reflect this perception: “There is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about.”
But in fact, more than 20 years of repeated scientific polling of tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strongly refute these perceptions, and give leaders in Ramallah substantial room to maneuver in the ongoing negotiations.
Palestinians’ attitudes toward Israel and the peace process are diverse and complex.
Polls show that Palestinians worry that Israeli authorities can demolish their homes. Since 1967, 28,000 Palestinian homes, livestock facilities, and other structures have been displaced, and more than 676 in 2012 alone. They are distressed that Israel’s building of new roads, settlements, and the 430 mile-long “separation barrier” will further deprive them of access to what they regard as their lands.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that more than 6,000 acres on the West Bank were transferred to Israeli control in 2012, and 36,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements were approved. Palestinians live in constant fear that Israeli soldiers can arrest and imprison them for long periods, or cause bodily harm to them or their family members. In a June 2013 survey, 74 percent said they worried that they or family members would be hurt by Israelis or have their land confiscated or homes demolished.