As the current Palestinian campaign of terrorism against Israel is about to enter its third month, it is still not clear to many what the Palestinians are trying to achieve. The Palestinians cannot even agree on a name for their campaign. Some are referring to it as an "intifada," while others are describing it as a "Habba Jamahiriya" ["popular puff," or "flurry"].
The Palestinians also have not been able to agree on the motives behind the stabbing, shooting, firebombing and car-ramming attacks. Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly claimed during the past few weeks that the terrorists are setting out to kill Jews out of "despair and frustration" and the lack of a "political horizon." But Abbas seems intentionally to be ignoring that it is he and his Palestinian Authority who are responsible -- together with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions -- for the violence, as a result of their daily incitement against Israel.
This is yet another instance in which anyone could have predicted what was going to happen. Throughout the past year, Abbas has been telling his people that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and "change the Arab and Islamic character and identity" of Jerusalem. He condemned Jews for "defiling the Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet." Abbas, his spokesmen and PA-controlled media outlets also have also repeatedly been telling Palestinians that Israel is committing "war crimes" and "summary executions" of innocent Palestinians.
This is, as Abbas knows, exactly the type of incitement that prompts Palestinian teenagers to grab a knife, run out into the street and murder the first Jew they see. Those young Palestinians are also tragic victims of the poisonous campaign of the inflammatory anti-Israeli language emanating from Palestinian leaders such as Abbas, mosque preachers, news outlets and social media.
Contrary to Abbas's outrage, no one has yet found even one terrorist who claimed to have attacked a Jew out of "despair and frustration" at the "lack of a political horizon." If you look through the social media accounts of these young terrorists, many have said that they set out to kill Jews to "defend" Al-Aqsa Mosque. They seem to have been influenced by the romantic notion of Abbas's repeated fictitious claims that Jews were plotting to destroy the mosque, followed by high-flown fantasies of themselves as heroes charging forth to rescue it.
A public opinion poll published last week refutes Abbas's claim that Palestinians are committing terrorist attacks out of "despair and frustration." The poll, conducted by the Watan Center for Studies and Research, found that 48% of the Palestinians interviewed believe that the real goal of the "intifada" is to "liberate all of Palestine." In other words, approximately half of Palestinians believe that the goal of the "intifada" should lead to the destruction of Israel.
What is notable, is that only 11% of respondents said that the true goal of the "intifada" should be to "liberate" only those territories captured by Israel in 1967. Another 12% of Palestinians said they believe that the goal of the "intifada" was to release prisoners held by Israel.
The results of the poll, which covered 1,167 Palestinians above the age of 18, show that a majority of Palestinians continue to seek the destruction of Israel. The poll shows that only a few Palestinians see only the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as the future Palestinian state. They want the "intifada" to replace Israel with a Palestinian state -- preferably, one that now would be ruled by Hamas and jihadi organizations such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
These Palestinians do not see a difference between, say, Ma'aleh Adumim, a "settlement" on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and any city inside Israel. One only needs to look at reports in the Palestinian media to see that Tel Aviv, Rishon Lezion, Kiryat Gat and Ra'anana are all considered "settlements." These reports also show that Palestinians do not see a difference between a Jew living in the West Bank and Israel -- instead, they are all depicted as "settlers" and "colonialists."
None of the Palestinians interviewed for the poll complained about "despair and frustration," or the lack of a "political horizon." Obviously, they are driven by hatred for Jews and Israel. They do not, however, have a problem with "settlements" or "poor living conditions." They have a problem with Israel's existence. A majority believes that Israel can -- and should -- be destroyed. They are not, as Palestinian leaders claim, seeking a two-state solution.
According to the poll, more than 75% of Palestinians support the use of violence against Israel. More than 44% of respondents support the use of firearms against Israel; 18% are in favor of using knives to kill Jews, and another 14% would like to see Palestinians use stones. This contradicts Abbas's claim that the Palestinians want a "peaceful and popular" uprising.
Another noteworthy finding of the poll is that 72% of Palestinians want the current "intifada" to continue. In other words, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians would like to see their youths carry out more terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. They want to see more terror attacks because their leaders and journalists are telling them that those who kill Jews are "heroes" and "martyrs" who will have streets, squares, schools and tournaments named after them.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited Israel and Ramallah last week in a bid to end the Palestinian terror attacks, was unable to make any progress. Even before he arrived in Ramallah to meet with President Abbas, Kerry was strongly condemned for referring to the Palestinian violence as "terrorism." Palestinians who demonstrated not far from Abbas's office shouted slogans condemning the U.S. Administration for its attempt to stop the terror attacks against Israelis and called for boycotting Kerry. The protesters also declared Kerry persona non grata in Ramallah.
Kerry and the U.S. Administration should know by now that the Palestinians are waging war on Israel not because of "despair and frustration," but because they aspire to destroy Israel, as the results of the recent poll show.
The goal of the Palestinians is the destruction of Israel. This fact is something that other Western parties need to understand -- that the Palestinian "struggle" is mainly aimed at eliminating Israel, and not "the establishment of a Palestinian state that would live in peace and security alongside Israel." The recent poll should be translated into English and distributed among all those "pro-Palestinian" groups that continue to shout about the conflict being the result of Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
Today, it is clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not really about the "occupation" that began with the creation of Israel in 1948. The last three Palestinian "intifadas" and previous Israeli-Arab wars had (and still have) one goal: to see Israel removed off the map.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.