I’ve written before in this space that international “pro-Palestinian” activists who demand a “one-state solution” appear very out of step with what polls show the Palestinians themselves want. The latest polling data, aptly summarised by David Pollock in this edition on the opposite page, again supports this conclusion. According to the new survey he cites, only 18% of West Bank residents and 5% of Gazans tell interviewers that they want to see a “one-state solution in all of the land in which Palestinians and Jews have equal rights.”
This is of course what “one-state solution” pro-Palestinian activists claim to advocate.
But since only tiny minorities of Palestinians (and even fewer Israeli Jews) want a “one-state solution” on these terms, what do the rest want?
Well, hearteningly, in the short term, larger portions want a two-state solution – 29% in the West Bank and a surprising 44% in Gaza.
Unfortunately, as Pollock makes clear, the picture is less heartening when you look at other questions about longer term expectations. Majorities of Palestinians expect Israel will cease to exist, either as a Jewish state or at all, in 35 years. Only tiny minorities believe Israel will exist in a hundred years.
However even more worrying than this data is what the largest group of Palestinians say they want to be the “main Palestinian national goal” – “reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea.” What does this goal mean for the 41% of West Bank residents and 50% of Gazans who espouse it?
It does not appear to mean a “one-state solution in all of the land in which Palestinians and Jews have equal rights”. That was a survey option they could have chosen but rejected.
It is of course impossible to know exactly what is in the minds of all the people who say they want to “reclaim all of historic Palestine”, but there is strong reason to believe that a large percentage of them are saying they want ethnic cleansing of all or most Jews from “historic Palestine.”
The survey itself hints at this – overwhelming majorities of Palestinians surveyed – 81% of West Bankers and 88% of Gazans say that all of historic Palestine “is Palestinian land and Jews have no rights to the land.”
While this is not unambiguous, it’s worth recalling that Palestinian political and popular culture has long featured calls for the removal of all or most Jews from Israel.
The Palestinian National Charter of 1969 – at a time when the major tenets of Palestinian nationalism were being systematised – strongly hinted that most Jews would no longer be present once Palestine is “liberated”, saying that liberation will “destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence”, and only “Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.” This was backed up by rhetoric from Palestinian leaders – Ahmed Shukeiry, the first PLO head, spoke of throwing the Jews into the sea before the 1967 war. He later claimed that he had only meant that Jews would return to their countries of origin via the sea – ethnic cleansing instead of genocide.
Similarly, perhaps the most famous poem by the most famous Palestinian “poet of resistance”, Mohammed Darwish, “Passing in Passing Words”, repeatedly demands Israelis “leave our land” and “go away” and “die where you wish but do not die among us” and “take with you your dead.”
Similar themes continue to be promulgated today. For instance, Hamas produced a music video last year showing Israel being conquered and Jews being deported to Russia and Germany. Hamas leaders such as Mahmoud Zahar have openly said Jews will soon be expelled from all of Palestine.
Even the supposedly more moderate Fatah movement produces similar material. For instance, a music video broadcast on official PA-TV in 2007-2008 repeatedly demanded that the Jewish “enemy”, described as a snake, “leave my country.” And senior Fatah leader Tawfiq Tirawi posted on Facebook last year that Palestinians “remain committed to the promise:… driving out the occupier from the entire pure land, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea.”
Meanwhile, some who present the ostensibly more sophisticated argument for a “democratic one-state solution” appear to be actually seeking a version of ethnic cleansing, even if it is not politic to say so.
One example is the British-Palestinian activist Dr. Ghada Karmi, a leading advocate of a “one-state solution”, who was recently in Australia again. During a previous visit in 2007, she was asked at a lecture in Perth about coexistence after her “single state” was created. In response, she stated that she expected most of the Jews to go “back” to Europe (never mind that only a minority of Israeli Jews were born in Europe) and that would “solve the problem.”
Obviously this belief in an “ethnic cleansing solution” on the part of at least a substantial minority of Palestinians destroys any argument that you can have a “one-state solution in all of the land in which Palestinians and Jews have equal rights.” How can that possibly work when so many Palestinians want, not a state with equal right for Palestinians and Jews, but one for Palestinians alone with the Jews killed or expelled?
But it is also a huge problem for a two-state solution. If large majorities of Palestinians believe that “Jews have no rights to the land” and similarly large numbers believe Israel will cease to exist over coming decades, is it any surprise that Palestinian leaders have repeatedly pulled back from signing any final two-state peace with Israel? Why should they – their people expect to win anyway if they just wait.
It is time for the international community to recognise that until these Palestinian beliefs change, no final peace will likely be possible.
This article is featured in this month’s Australia/Israel Review, which can be downloaded as a free App: see here for more details.