Days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration's commitment to the "two-state solution," the Palestinians responded by repeating their rejection of the idea and their support for more terrorism against Israel.
The Palestinian response came through a public opinion poll published on December 13 by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and statements by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip.
The poll found that 69% of Palestinians believe that the "two-state solution" is no longer practical or feasible. Another 72% believe that the chances for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years are slim or nonexistent.
The Palestinians, in short, are telling Blinken and the Biden administration that they can keep dreaming about the two-state fantasy for as long as they wish, but that they prefer "armed struggle" and terrorism to peace negotiations with Israel.
When asked about the most effective means of building an independent state, 51% of the Palestinians chose the "armed struggle." Another 55% supported a return to armed confrontations and an intifada (uprising) against Israel.
Even more concerning is that 72% of the Palestinian public said they are in favor of forming terror groups such as the Lions' Den, whose members have carried out shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the northern West Bank over the past few months.
Earlier this month, Blinken said in a speech before the J Street National Conference that the Biden administration will continue to strive for "realizing the enduring goal of two states." He added:
"We support this vision because it's pragmatic. We continue to believe, as the President said on his trip to the Holy land this summer, that two states – based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps – remains the best way to achieve our goal of Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security."
Last month, Blinken reaffirmed the Biden administration's two-state fantasy – especially along the notoriously indefensible 1949 armistice lines, where the fighting at the time just so happened to stop --- in a phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The results of several public opinion polls, including the most recent one, demonstrate that Blinken and his team are either engaging in self-deception or simply fail to understand or see what most Palestinians want: Killing more Jews and the obliteration of Israel.
This is not the first poll to show that a majority of Palestinians oppose the "two-state solution." That is because they are clamoring for a Palestinian state not alongside Israel, but instead of Israel.
Moreover, this is not the first poll to show that most Palestinians continue to support Hamas, the terror group whose charter openly calls for jihad (holy war) and the elimination of Israel.
The Hamas charter quotes Muslim Brotherhood spiritual founder Hassan al-Banna as saying: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
The rising popularity of Hamas among the Palestinians is a clear sign that most of them identify with the Islamist group's goal of destroying Israel.
Like Hamas, these Palestinians want to replace Israel with an Islamist state whose borders stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
According to the latest poll, if new Palestinian Authority presidential elections were held today, the Biden administration's favorite Palestinian interlocutor, Mahmoud Abbas, would receive 36% and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would get 54%. In addition, 75% said they want the 87-year-old Abbas to resign.
It would have been a good idea if Blinken had listened to what Hamas leaders clearly said in the past few days during rallies to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of their organization. The Hamas leaders repeated their threats to "uproot the Zionist enemy" from Israel through terrorism. They also praised the terror groups in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of the West Bank that are carrying out attacks against Israelis.
Marking the anniversary occasion, Hamas issued a statement on December 14 that basically refutes claims by some Westerners that it has become a "moderate" group that is ready to accept the "two-state solution":
"On the 35th anniversary of its founding, the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] confirms the following: Palestine, from its [Jordan] River to its [Mediterranean] Sea, is the land of the Palestinian people. We will continue to cling to it completely, and to our legitimate right to defend and liberate it by all means, foremost of which is armed resistance."
If the Palestinians really wanted their own state next to Israel, they could have had one many years ago. However, Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, rejected all the peace offers they received from Israeli leaders over the past 22 years without even a counteroffer.
"Palestinian rejectionism won the day whenever a concrete partition was on the agenda, such as the one offered by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000, or the one proposed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2007," said Efraim Inbar, President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. "Any Palestinian state will be dissatisfied with its borders and intent on using force to attain its goals."
Barak's proposal to Yasser Arafat included the establishment of a Palestinian state on some 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
Olmert offered to withdraw from 93% of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip and large parts of east Jerusalem. Abbas said no.
Blinken and his advisers could learn a lot from former US President Bill Clinton, who hosted the 2000 peace summit at Camp David. In it, Arafat turned down the generous offer he received from Barak. When Arafat said no, Clinton banged on the table and said: "You are leading your people and the region to a catastrophe."
Since then, the Palestinians have done their utmost to fulfill Clinton's prophecy. They continue to resort to terrorism, glorify terrorists and support their families financially, and back Hamas in its jihad to destroy Israel.
Anyone who supports the establishment of a Palestinian state would be paving the way for the Palestinians to use the West Bank and Gaza Strip as launching pads to attack and destroy Israel.
The last thing Israel and its Arab neighbors need is an Iranian-controlled terror state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that would be used to launch attacks against both Israelis and Arabs. Such a state would be a recipe for war, not peace in the Middle East.
Today, it is evident that the desire to kill Jews and eliminate Israel remains, for many Palestinians, more important than building a state that would live in peace and security side-by-side with Israel. It is time for the Biden administration to wake up to the fact that Clinton understood more than 20 years ago – that the rejectionism of the Palestinian leaders is dragging the Palestinian people, and the entire Middle East, toward a bloody and dead-end future.
The way for the international community -- starting with the US -- to turn the problem around is through insisting that any aid is strictly conditioned upon the Palestinians abandoning their calls for terrorism, which now infest the entire Palestinian society, even in crossword puzzles. If there is any non-compliance, payments must actually be withheld. If one goes to a bank and asks for a loan, there are conditions attached; why not with aid? Otherwise, all of the aid that does not "disappear" is openly being used to bankroll terrorism, jihad and killing Jews.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.