Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams looks at recent polling of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (the brackets are mine):
Sadly, the Hamas “approach” of which Palestinians were apparently approving is war and terrorism instead of peace negotiations. In fact the poll found that “88 percent believe that the results of the confrontation in Gaza prove that armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian independence.” And unsurprisingly in view of that number, support for “an immediate return to negotiations with Israel” dropped. Meanwhile, support for [reformer] Prime Minister Fayyad has also dropped, and the poll shows that [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh noses him out now among all Palestinians.
The excuse for the Palestinians’ inability to make a peace deal used to be that they were being manipulated by Arab governments (true as far as it goes). Then the excuse was that they simply didn’t have a leader willing to make peace (also true as far as it goes). But the sad reality is that the Palestinians themselves, at least most of them, don’t want peace.
You can debate whether Palestinians were “honest” in their polling responses and may have feared retaliation for expressing views that were too anti-Hamas/pro-peace. You can debate how and why Palestinian youth became addicted to the culture of violence and hate (those Saudi-produced textbooks are a good starting point). But what is increasingly hard to deny is that we don’t have peace because there is no one for Israel to make peace with. The idea that if we simply force everyone back in a room and come up with the right map and the right formula we can solve the peace puzzle is a fiction, and not a particularly useful one.
Moreover, I find it increasingly hard to argue that continued U.S. aid to the “good” Palestinians (the Palestinian Authority) is important so the “bad” Palestinians (Hamas) don’t get the upper hand. But hasn’t that already happened, and doesn’t the unity government between the two now make us a financier for the very people who lobbed missiles into Israel?
When Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), as expected, comes up for his confirmation hearing, that is a good question to put on the list.