A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion produced a number of surprising results. 

For example:

  • Conventional wisdom says that we can’t move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because it would inflame tensions and lead to an outburst of terrorism.  But 56% of Palestinians in the West Bank say that moving the embassy is not an important issue.
  • Asked about the idea of “pay for slay” – paying the families of jihadists who attack innocent Israelis – two-thirds of Palestinians disagreed with the policy, saying there should “not be extra payments based on sentences or armed operations.”  It is disappointing that the number wasn’t even higher, but it shows just how disconnected from reality the Palestinian leadership truly is.
  • When asked what they most wanted America to do, the greatest response (34%) among Palestinians in the West Bank was “put pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to be more democratic and less corrupt.”  Among Gazans, the greatest response was “increasing economic aid.”
  • Asked about their top priority, 49% of Palestinians in the West Bank chose “having a good family life,” while 30% said “making enough income to live comfortably.”  Only 12% said “working to establish a Palestinian state.”  Among Palestinians in Gaza, 40% said “a good family life,” while 25% said “working to establish a Palestinian state.”
  • Sadly, few Palestinians appear willing to accept Israel’s right to exist.  According to David Pollock of The Washington Institute, “The percentage [of Palestinians] who say that ‘Jews have some rights to this land’ is only in the single digits.”   But while they did not like the idea of Israel, 60% of Palestinians in the West Bank and nearly half of those in Gaza accepted the fact that Israel wasn’t going anywhere.

What the poll seems to suggest is that in spite of deep hostility, many Palestinians reject extremism and are far more pragmatic than their leaders.  That offers a glimmer of hope for a peaceful future between Israelis and Palestinians – when and if the extremists lose their grip on power.

The Palestinian Authority must stop subsidising terrorism against Israel and purge the radicals from its ranks.  The terrorist group Hamas cannot be part of any future Palestinian government.

Gary Bauer
Director of CUFI Action Fund