Why polls on a Palestinian state are a mirage

 

February 9, 2018



(JNS)—Ever wonder why polls consistently show that a large portion of the Israeli public supports creating a Palestinian state?

How can it be that despite the Palestinian Authority’s support for terrorism, violations of the Oslo Accords and non-stop anti-Israel incitement, so many Israelis seem to be in favor of establishing a Palestinian state next door? Could it be that the answer is found in the asking?

Just last week, newspaper headlines announced that according to a new poll, 47 percent of Israeli Jews still support Palestinian statehood. The poll was carried out by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, at Tel Aviv University.

But as with most news about Israel, you need to dig behind the headlines to find out the real story. In this case, the real story is the wording that the Steinmetz Center used. The question that got the 47 percent figure was loaded with false assumptions and completely unrealistic expectations. In other words, the poll offered a fantasy.


The Steinmetz Center asked respondents if they supported a “two-state solution” that would include:

1. It would be a “permanent settlement.” In reality, of course, nobody can guarantee that any settlement would be “permanent.” The Palestinian leader who signs an agreement could be overthrown the next day. Arab leaders are constantly being ousted and replaced by arch-rivals.

2. The agreement would include “demilitarization of the Palestinian state.” This, despite the fact that every Palestinian leader has rejected the idea of demilitarization. Even if they signed an agreement saying it would be demilitarized, what’s the likelihood they would abide by that? If a “demilitarized” Palestinian state started importing tanks that it claimed were needed for self-defense, Israel would face international condemnation and sanctions if it tried to intervene.

3. There would be “family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees.” Notice the use of the sympathetic term “family unification.” What cruel person would oppose unifying families? More important, the PA’s position has always been that millions of Palestinian “refugees”—not a mere 100,000—must be allowed to settle in Israel. The 100,000 figure is an illusion that Jewish supporters of the Palestinians trot out to try to sell their imaginary deal.

4. “The Palestinian state will fight terror against Israelis.” What a joke. The heart and soul of the Oslo Accords was that the PA would stamp out terrorist groups. Yet here we are, 25 years later, and the PA has never disarmed or outlawed any of the terrorist groups, never extradited any terrorists to Israel, never even expelled terror factions from the PLO. But now, when they have a state, they will suddenly “fight terror”?

So there you have it: The “Palestinian state” that 47 percent of Israeli Jews would favor is a creature of the Steinmetz Center’s imagination. A permanently peaceful, totally demilitarized, terror-fighting Palestinian state that won’t insist on flooding Israel with “refugees.” Who wouldn’t want such a neighbor? Frankly, I’m surprised only 47 percent of Israeli Jews voiced their support.

It’s not hard to understand why advocates of the Palestinian cause are so enamored of the Steinmetz Center. The center’s website reports that its polls of Israeli public opinion are undertaken “with funding from the European Union and the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah.” I guess the EU and the Dutch government, both of which are passionately pro-Palestinian, see the center’s work as helpful to the Palestinian cause.

You can bet the EU and the Dutch would be mighty unhappy if the Steinmetz Center asked questions that included factual statements about Palestinian statehood. How about questions such as these:

1. If a Palestinian state is established, Israel will be nine miles wide at its midsection. Is that a risk you are willing to take?

2. If a Palestinian state is established, a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, standing inside the borders of “Palestine,” will be able to shoot down a plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport. Do you believe the PA can be relied upon to stop such attacks?

3. The PA has never honored its Oslo obligations to disarm or outlaw terrorist groups. Do you believe that a Palestinian state would take those actions?

Any chance of the Steinmetz Center ever asking such questions? I’m not holding my breath, and you shouldn’t either.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

 

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