Saturday, July 16, 2011

Anticipating September


A broad Palestinian majority, 64%, supports a complete end of the conflict and the end of all further claims.

PA President Abbas addresses the GA last year.
Photo by: REUTERS
THE DEBATE SURROUNDING Palestinian statehood is taking on new urgency as the September 2011 date for the possible unilateral declaration, and subsequent possible, even if unlikely, recognition by the UN General Assembly, approaches. Israeli leaders have steadfastly toed the line that such a unilateral action is to be rejected, and Israel is lobbying hard internationally to convince countries not to recognize such a state.

Among the Israeli public, fear seems to be the primary sentiment. In a column published here just over one year ago, we showed that a majority of the Israeli public (54%) believed that such a scenario is a threat to Israel; only 29% thought it might create an opportunity.

The sentiment seems to have grown stronger since then: according to May’s monthly Peace Index survey, conducted through Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, fully 70% of Israelis are convinced that a unilateral declaration will lead Palestinians to start a third intifada – perhaps out of frustration that nothing on the ground has changed.

Israelis are fearful of violence, but much of the Israeli fear seems rooted in a deep belief that if the Palestinians win this unilateral battle, they will be emboldened to continue struggling until they achieve all their goals.

Of what purported Palestinian goals are the Israelis so afraid? For years, surveys have consistently shown that Israelis believe that Palestinians seek their (the Israelis’) doom: In a survey conducted by the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University in late March, the clear plurality of Israelis – 40% – say that Palestinians ultimately want to take back all the land from before 1948 and destroy much of the Jewish population, while another 17% say Palestinians want only to take over the all the land; only 28% believe that the ultimate goal is to take back 1967 land.

For the rest of the post from the Jerusalem Post, click the title of this post.

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