Earlier this week, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) released a new poll of 1,270 Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post highlighted one of the findings: “poll finds 55% support two-state solution.” The PCPSR has been releasing these polls since 2003, and they always lead to misleading headlines such as the one in the Jerusalem Post–because a “two-state solution” as used in the polls doesn’t mean what you think it means.

In addition to polling whether Palestinians support a two-state solution in general, the PCPSR polls the support for a two-state solution modeled on the Clinton Parameters, described by the PCPSR as involving the following: 

(1) an Israeli withdrawal from more than 97 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap for the other 3 percent; (2) a Palestinian state with a “strong security force” (but no army), and a multinational force; (3) sovereignty over land, water, and airspace, but Israeli use of airspace for training and retention of two West Bank early-warning stations for 15 years; (4) a capital in East Jerusalem, including all Arab neighborhoods and the entire Old City, except the Jewish Quarter and the “Wailing Wall”; and (5) a “right of return” for refugees to the new state of Palestine (with compensation for “refugeehood”). 

In the January 2013 PCPSR poll, only 43% supported that solution. 

Moreover, in every poll PCPSR poll since 2005, that package has failed to generate Palestinian majority support. While a slight majority of Palestinians may support a two-state solution in the abstract, what they mean is a militarized Palestinian state, next to an Israel pushed back to indefensible borders, with retention of an asserted Palestinian “right of return” to Israel. Such a state would “live side by side, in peace and security”® with Israel for about a week–the period it took to turn Gaza into Hamastan after Israel left in 2005. The new PCPSR poll also found that “only 42% support and 56% oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people.” In other words, the Palestinians want a state, but not if it involves recognition of a Jewish one. 

Israel is constantly warned it will eventually be faced with a demand for a “one-state solution” if it does not make the concession du jour to the Palestinians, but the January PCPSR poll found that “despite the belief that the two-state solution is no longer practical, a large majority of 71% opposes the alternative one-state solution” (emphasis added). That is not surprising: the peace-partner Palestinians demand a Judenrein state in Judea and Samaria; the last thing they want is to be in a state with Jews in it. Fatah and Hamas cannot even live side-by-side with themselves. 

It was obvious in 2008 that the assertion that “everyone knows” what a peace agreement entails was false. It was obvious in 2010 that “everyone” did not know what “everyone” supposedly knew. It is obvious today, confirmed again by the PCPSR polls. Perhaps we should stop relying on polls to gauge Palestinian readiness for peace. We will know the Palestinians are ready when they start educating their children for peace; when their media stops demonizing Jews and puts Israel on their maps; when their leaders give a Bir Zeit speech to match Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan one; and when they are able to hold an election in which the person making the speech is elected. 

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