Two new polls are being widely quoted in the media as showing that Israelis — even voters for right-wing parties — want to make a two-state deal with the Palestinians. For example, Barak Ravid writes in Ha’aretz [subscription],
Two opinion surveys conducted by different Israeli pollsters in December show that most Likud-Beiteinu and the further-right Habayit Hayehudi voters would support a peace agreement establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs and a division of Jerusalem. The two polls also revealed that two thirds of all Israelis support such an agreement…
The Abraham Center commissioned parallel polls from Mina Tzemach’s Dahaf and from pollster Rafi Smith on the Israeli public’s views about peace with the Palestinians. The firms were aware of each other’s polls. Each poll asked one question: If the government of Israel presented a public referendum on a peace agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be implemented only after the Palestinians held up all the obligations at their end, especially the war on terror, and the United States approved of the agreement, would you support it or not?
The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country. The Palestinian state would be demilitarized and its boundaries would be based on the 1967 lines with exchanges of equal-sized territory. Those exchanges would take into consideration Israel’s security needs and would retain the large settlement blocs in Israeli hands…
When it came to the general public, Mina Tzemach’s poll revealed that 67 percent supported such an agreement and 21 percent opposed it, while Rafi Smith’s poll showed 68 percent in favor and 25 percent against. The surveys found that the general public’s support for the agreement rose to 75 percent (Dahaf ) and 80 percent (Rafi Smith ) when augmented by various other “improvements” such as a defense alliance with the United Sates, disarmament of Hamas and an end to its rule in Gaza, and Arab states’ willingness to enact full diplomatic relations with Israel.
Does this mean, as the Left suggests, that it is the intransigence of the Netanyahu government that is holding Israel back from making peace? Does it mean that with a little more pressure from the US, such an agreement is possible?
Of course not. What it means is that Israelis really, really want peace and most would give up territory in return, if peace were attainable by doing so.
The poll question presumes that the PLO state would be demilitarized and the Palestinians would “hold up all their obligations [first].” How demilitarization could be enforced and how the Palestinians could be prevented from violating the agreement — as they have violated almost every agreement they made with Israel since 1993 — are not specified. As for the idea that Hamas would disarm and give up control of Gaza, it’s far more likely that Hamas will end up in control of Judea and Samaria too.
In addition to the practical issues above, the question assumes that the Palestinians would sincerely agree to Israel retaining the settlement blocs, to demilitarization, to abandoning their demand for ‘right of return’, to recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people, etc., when they have consistently rejected these ideas when presented as concrete peace proposals. Polls among Palestinians consistently show that they support violent ‘resistance’ until Israel has been replaced by an Arab state.
An acquaintance called this an “if pigs could fly poll.” There is as little chance of the conditions being fulfilled as there being a porcine airlift, so it has no real-world application, except insofar as it shows that even right-wing Israelis dream of peace. But we knew that.
Yet another recent poll, also conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemach, showed that 83% of Israelis believe that withdrawal to pre-1967 boundaries wouldn’t bring peace. That is why they vote for the Likud and rightward.
So why the flying pigs? The Ha’aretz article linked above helps us understand:
The polls were commissioned by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington D.C. Abraham, who made his fortune with Slim-Fast diet products, is considered a major contributor and close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is also known to be close to President Shimon Peres and to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. However, Abraham has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on almost every visit to Israel over the past four years.
The Abraham Center is headed by former Congressman Robert Wexler, who is close to President Barack Obama and was very active in the latter’s recent presidential campaign. According to one assessment, Wexler may be appointed to a senior position in the Obama administration in the coming months.
It tells us that the Obama Administration has not given up on its plan to create a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and to divide Jerusalem. Just wait: the poll will be presented as ‘proof’ that the majority of Israelis want it to!