The Biden Administration has resumed its efforts to relaunch peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
On June 19, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf arrived in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and met with Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official who serves as Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee.
"Mrs. Barbara expressed the US administration's concern about the security situation [in the West Bank], talked about the US efforts exerted and the intensive contacts that are being conducted to calm the situation, and called on the two parties to return to the negotiating track," al-Sheikh said after the meeting.
On the eve of Leaf's arrival in Ramallah, however, a majority of Palestinians again showed an overwhelming preference for terror against Israel and Jews. They also voiced opposition to the idea of a "two-state solution," often floated by the Biden Administration.
The Palestinians' views were disclosed in a public opinion poll conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) on the 75th anniversary of the "Nakba" ("Catastrophe," the term used by Palestinians to describe the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, when Arab armies initiated -- then lost -- a war to prevent the Jews from having their own state).
The findings of the poll, which was conducted between June 7 and 11, show that the Biden Administration and all those who continue to talk about reviving the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians are living under an illusion. The results of the poll indicate that most Palestinians are more interested in killing Jews than making peace with them. The results, in addition, show that most Palestinians want as a successor to their current leader, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has ties to terror.
According to the poll, the largest percentage of Palestinians (24%) believe that the rise of extremist Islamist terror groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was "the most positive or the best thing that has happened to the Palestinian people since the Nakba." Another 21% said that the eruption of the two Palestinian uprisings, or intifadas, in 1987 and 2000, during which more than a thousand Jews were murdered and thousands more wounded in terror attacks, was the most positive thing that has happened to the Palestinian people since 1948. And 9% said it was the establishment of Fatah and the launch of "the armed struggle." This means that a majority of the Palestinians see terrorist groups and the murder of Jews -- not the construction of schools and hospitals -- as their proudest accomplishment over the past seven decades.
More than half of the Palestinians, the poll showed, prefer an "armed struggle" (terrorism) against Israel to negotiations with it.
The Palestinian public's support for various terror groups operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not surprising. The only thing that seems to disturb the Palestinian public is the possibility that Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority security forces might go after the terror groups.
More than 71% of the Palestinians say they are in favor of forming armed groups such as the Lions' Den and the Jenin Battalion, the results of the poll showed. It is worth noting that these armed groups have been involved in a large number of terror attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians over the past year. The Lion's Den, based in Nablus, and the Jenin Battalion, based in the Jenin Refugee Camp, have turned the northern parts of the West Bank into a hotbed of terrorism. The armed terrorists of these groups are regularly hailed by Palestinians as heroes and martyrs.
This hero-worship is apparently why 80% of the Palestinians say they are against the surrender of the armed groups' members and their weapons to the PA. The Palestinians want the gunmen to remain on the streets and continue their terror attacks against Jews. The vast majority (86%) say that the PA does not have the right to arrest members of these terrors groups to prevent them from carrying out attacks against Israel. This view seems to be one of the reasons that Abbas is reluctant to order his security forces to crack down on these terror groups and confiscate their weapons. Abbas is undoubtedly aware of the widespread support the terrorists enjoy among the Palestinian people. He undoubtedly knows that if he goes against the terrorists, he will be denounced by his people as a traitor and Israeli collaborator. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are already facing severe criticism for conducting security coordination with Israeli security forces in the West Bank.
Earlier this year, CNN's Christiane Amanpour claimed on television that "the latest polls from the Palestinian side also show that they want a peaceful, two-state solution." The latest poll, like previous ones, show that Amanpour lied to her viewers.
According to the latest PSR poll, support for the concept of the "two-state solution" stands at 28% and opposition stands at 70%. A poll conducted by the same center three months earlier showed that support for the "two-state solution" stood at only 27%, while opposition to it stood at 71%.
When it comes to choosing their leaders, Palestinians again showed that they prefer a candidate who killed Jews and wants to destroy Israel to anyone who is perceived as being overly moderate towards Israel. The results of the poll showed that Marwan Barghouti, and Ismail Haniyeh are more popular than the 87-year-old Abbas and would defeat him if PA presidential elections were held today. Why? Barghouti, a leader of the ruling Fatah faction, is serving five life terms in prison for his role in a series of terror attacks against Israelis two decades ago. Haniyeh is the leader of Hamas, a radical Islamist group that does not believe in Israel's right to exist and whose charter openly calls for jihad (holy war) to eliminate Israel.
Revealingly, while the Biden administration continues to engage Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and send its top diplomats to meet with them in Ramallah, the vast majority of the Palestinians have evidently lost confidence in their leaders. According to the PSR poll, 80% of the Palestinian public wants Abbas to resign. This marks an increase of two percent since the previous poll conducted three months earlier. About 31% of the Palestinians say Hamas is most deserving of representing and leading them as opposed to 21% who think Abbas's Fatah faction is the most deserving of leading them. Forty-three percent think neither Hamas nor Fatah deserves to represent them.
While the Biden administration seems to have confidence in Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, 84% of the Palestinians -- with good reason (here, here and here) -- believe that PA institutions are corrupt. Moreover, the level of dissatisfaction with the performance of Abbas, the poll showed, stands at 80%.
The results of the latest Palestinian poll show that the Biden administration and the European Union, by believing that they can promote the idea of a "two-state solution" between Israel and the Palestinians, continue to engage in self-deception. The Americans and Europeans appear blithely oblivious to the sentiments of the Palestinian street and prefer to listen only to what senior Palestinian officials tell them behind closed doors in Ramallah. The Palestinian officials are clearly misrepresenting the situation when they talk about the Palestinians' desire to achieve peace and establish a Palestinian state next to Israel. They are saying that because they are hoping to get a state in the West Bank which they could then use as a launching pad from which to attack Israel. This is exactly what the Palestinians did after Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 and handed it over to the Palestinian Authority: they started firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel.
Poll after poll has shown that these officials -- including Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 18th year of his four-year term in office -- have lost the confidence of most of the Palestinians and for years have not represented the views of the majority of the Palestinian public.
US and EU officials would do themselves a great service to see reality as it is: Most Palestinians are opposed to the "two-state solution" and strongly support terrorism. Most Palestinians irrefutably want terrorists to represent and lead them.
The findings of the poll come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the mood of the Palestinian public. The radicalization is the direct result of decades of brainwashing and incitement against Israel taking place nonstop in mosques, throughout the media, in schools, on university campuses, in sports, at summer camps and even in crossword puzzles. Palestinians are constantly being told by their leaders – falsely – that, for instance, the Jews are "storming" and "desecrating with their filthy feet" the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem; that Israeli Jews "seek to control the world," and that Jews were sending rats into Jerusalem's Old City and wild pigs into the fields to drive Arabs out of their homes, although it is not yet clear how the animals were trained to know which homes belong to Arabs and which to Jews.
If anything, the results of the poll show that the Americans and Europeans are wasting their time trying to convince the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
Are the EU or the Biden Administration putting any pressure on Abbas and the Palestinian leadership to crack down on the terror groups and cease their incessant incitement against Israel? No, instead the EU is sending equipment to the Palestinians to help them illegally build on land to be negotiated. The US, for its part, not only pretends that fighting terrorism is morally equivalent to committing terrorism, but also, in defiance of the US Congress, continues to reward Mahmoud Abbas's "pay-to-slay" "jobs program" with fungible money, still incentivizing Palestinians to murder Jews.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.