If You Like the Peace Process, Please Don’t Read Polls of Palestinians

Palestinians attend a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City
Palestinians attend a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City / Getty Images

There is one thing that Palestine obsessives never seem obsessed with: the opinions of Palestinians. There's no mystery here—asking what Palestinians believe exposes a fundamental problem with the liberal approach to the peace process, which is based on the belief that Palestinians are willing to live peacefully beside Israel.

If such a mentality prevailed, it would be easily revealed through polling. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducts a quarterly poll of Palestinians that is largely focused on internal political questions but also surveys views toward Israel and peace. That one never reads media coverage of this poll suggests that its findings are reliably inconvenient. The latest poll is out. What does it say?

  • If a new presidential election was held today between the current president, Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, and the leader of the terrorist group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas would beat Fatah 49 percent to 42 percent.
  • 88 per cent said that Palestinians who sell property to Jews are traitors. 64 percent said the punishment for selling property to Jews should be the death penalty.
  • Palestinians oppose the concept of a two-state solution, 55 percent to 43 percent.
  • "A large minority of 44 percent thinks that armed struggle is the most effective means of establishing a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel while 28 percent believe that negotiation is the most effective means and 23 percent think non-violent resistance is the most effective."
  • In lieu of negotiations, "54 percent support a return to an armed intifada," i.e. terrorism.
  • 50 percent of Palestinians reject in principle the holding of negotiations in order to resolve the conflict.

There exists an entire class of people in Washington and other western capitals who have devoted their careers to promoting Palestinian statehood, a quest now entering its fourth fruitless decade. Such people—many with good intentions—regularly explore every aspect of this issue in excruciating detail, every aspect except the one that matters the most: Palestinian public opinion.