Monday, November 26, 2007

Drawing the Wrong Conclusion

The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) periodically polls Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories and Jerusalem. Its latest poll, dated November 25, largely concerned attitudes towards the upcoming Annapolis Conference. The data in the poll demonstrates the not unsurprising fact that the Palestinian Arab public is not prepared for peace, but the founder and director of PCPO, Nabil Kukali, takes the findings and illogically concludes the United States must pressure Israel.

The poll is available at Among the conclusions derived were the following:

• (67.6 %) support to various degrees the participation of the Palestinian leadership in Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference.

• (68.2 %) oppose the waiver of the Right of Return.

• The most significant finding was that only half of the Palestinian Arabs, specifically (51.0 %), support the Palestinian Authority to launch negotiations for permanent peace deal with Israel.

According to Kukali, "the outcome shows, generally, that the Palestinians still stick to their national immovable issues such as the right of return, no relinquishment of any territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the issue of Jerusalem and the holy sites."

His illogical conclusion: "the US administration has to prove its determination of ending the Arab-Israeli conflict by exerting more pressure on the Israeli side to implement the UN resolutions on the issues of the final solution, as well as the Arab Initiative adopted by the Arab League."

Obviously, any solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict requires compromises by both sides, not just Israel, which has already made enormous, unreciprocated concessions. Until the Palestinian Arabs are ready to compromise, additional pressure on Israel is counterproductive, feeding the Arab intransigence which is the driving force behind the conflict.

Regarding the three issues Kukali refers to:

The so-called "right of return" is a non-starter. It is fundamentally incompatible with the concept of a two-state solution; its very inclusion in any agenda demonstrates the unwillingness of the Palestinian Arabs to consider a reasonable resolution of the conflict.

Any solution will require a fair division of the disputed territories, taking into account realities of both Arab and Jewish communities living there as well as the call, under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 for secure and recognized boundaries. This is incompatible with an Arab insistence on there being "no relinquishment of any territories," even ignoring the impossibility of "relinquishing" territory which they don't possess.

When it comes to Jerusalem and the holy sites, any solution must recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has a centrality to Jews next to which its relatively minor importance to Arabs and Muslims pales; indeed, even Hebron has more importance to Jews than Jerusalem has to Muslims. Any agreement must also recognize the reality that Israel has made holy sites accessible to all (except, unfortunately, sometimes to Jews), while to call the Palestinian Authority's record dismal would be to give it too much credit.

The PCPO confirms the Arab intransigence in these areas, an intransigence that must end before negotiations have any chance of succeeding. Thus, his prescription is precisely the opposite of what is needed.

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