Pushing a two-state solution neither Israelis nor Palestinians want

U.S. President Bill Clinton looks on as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasser Arafat shake hands at the signing of the Oslo Accords on Sept. 13, 1993. Credit: William J. Clinton Presidential Library/National Archives & Records Administration.

by Israel Kasnett

(JNS) — U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer believes the Palestinian people “want what any other people want: peace, security and prosperity.”

Clearly, however, the Palestinians do not want peace. They themselves acknowledge that they do not “want what any other people want.” Instead, they want terrorism and the annihilation of the Jewish state.

Multiple polls have shown that the majority of Palestinian civilians support Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre and the idea of a Palestinian state in the 1948 borders, meaning the destruction of Israel.

A new survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), released on Wednesday, shows that a vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza (71 percent) support Hamas’s decision to carry out the Oct. 7 massacre, compared to 57 percent in December.

The poll also shows a rise in Palestinian support for the terrorist Marwan Barghouti if he were to run in elections against Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh. Were Haniyeh to run against Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians would prefer Haniyeh.

A full 33 percent of Palestinians believe the most vital goal today is the “right of return” of refugees and their descendants to their 1948 towns and villages. This means that, according to the PSR poll, at least one-third of Palestinians want to replace Israel — not make peace with it.

Many Palestinians share Hamas’s desire to eliminate Israel as expressed in the terror group’s 1988 charter, and a majority of Palestinians support the formation of armed groups to murder Israelis.

A 2021 poll by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that a majority of Palestinians “prefer to reclaim all of historic Palestine, including the pre-1967 Israel.”

Given this long-standing Palestinian support for terrorism, terrorist leaders and the eradication of Israel, a vast majority of Israelis agree that establishing a Palestinian state, especially as a response to the Oct. 7 massacre, would constitute a clear reward for terrorism. Yet this is exactly what the international community is trying to do — against Israelis’ will.

In Schumer’s view, Israelis are lost because they are led by a right-wing government and are not buying the Democratic Party’s fantasy world.

But Israelis today are horrified at the idea of Palestinians getting their own state, from which they would inevitably launch massive terror attacks. Many question why the Biden administration is pushing for a two-state solution when the majority of Palestinians openly express support for terrorism. If the international community insists that stateless people must have a state now, then what about the Kurds, the Rohingya, or the hill tribes in Thailand?

“Americans pushing for a two state solution in the short-term are tone deaf, failing to listen to our Israeli allies in terms of how Oct. 7 impacted them and failing to listen to what Hamas says about its goals regarding Jews and the state of Israel,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“In times of crisis, real friends listen carefully,” he added. “Under current conditions, a Palestinian state would simply be a better foundation for Hamas and its terror partners to attack Israel.”

Obsessed with the two-state solution, the Biden administration insists it is the only path to peace — even as the majority of Palestinians supports terrorism, and even though the Palestinians have rejected every peace deal since Oslo.

As Ron Dermer, Israeli minister of strategic affairs and an observer member of Israel’s War Cabinet, put it in a recent JNS interview, “Anybody talking about Palestinian state right now is living on another planet.”

According to Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Israeli sentiment on this subject is so strong that Washington’s efforts are not likely to yield results.

“At this time, it doesn’t make any sense to raise the issue of a Palestinian state. I don’t think they’re going to be able to push it because of the consensus against it in Israel,” he said.

While the Israeli public was largely supportive of a Palestinian state in the ’90s, years of terrorism and Palestinian rejectionism have convinced most Israelis that a peace deal with the Palestinians is not currently feasible.

A majority of Israelis know that a Palestinian state would embrace terror and violence, not reject it. A February poll by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 44 percent of Israelis believe terrorism would intensify should a Palestinian state be realized.

A January 2024 IDI poll found that more than half of the Israeli public opposed the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a deal even if it would end the war against Hamas and normalize relations between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

According to a March 14 survey by The Jewish People Policy Institute, 79 percent of Israeli Jews agree and 65 percent strongly agree with the statement: “There is no chance of a peace agreement with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future.” Among Israeli Arabs, 24 percent “strongly agree” with the statement and another 15 percent “somewhat agree.”

Affirming these sentiments, in February, the Knesset plenum voted overwhelmingly to back the government’s decision to reject any unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, amid reports the Biden administration is considering such a move.

According to Bowman, “Schumer got several things right in his speech and a few things badly wrong. Much of what he said about Hamas was correct, but he was badly misguided in trying to dictate the timing of Israeli elections.

“Since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, the United States has provided Israel with an enormous number and variety of weapons,” he noted. “Yet some in the United States have called for curtailing or stopping the flow of weapons to Israel. That leaves many Israelis understandably concerned.”

Gilboa pointed out that the seemingly hostile American attitude toward Israel is not new.

“The United States thinks that as long as Israel depends on it for weapons and diplomatic support, it can criticize Israeli policies and politics,” he said.

However, he continued, in the comments by Schumer, as well as by Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden himself, we are seeing “an escalation.”

“They have concentrated on [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu because he is not popular with Democrats and the Democratic Party,” he said.

The main problem, according to Gilboa, is the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Afraid of losing their voting base, the Democrats and the Biden administration are taking a tougher stance against Israel.

The Israeli public is aware that the U.S. government and the international community did not react similarly when, for example, Syria massacred 600,000 of its own citizens, said Gilboa. This heavy pressure on Israel is viewed by Israelis as a cheap way for the Biden administration to gain political points on the American street.

“This causes damage to the two goals the sides share, defeating Hamas and releasing the hostages,” said Gilboa.

In Gilboa’s view, given rising American hostility, the Jewish state should reduce its reliance on the United States. At the same time, he suggested that Israel invest heavily in influencing public opinion in America to help reduce the anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiment there.

The U.S. obsession with a two-state solution clearly goes against the will of the Israeli public, and certainly does not mesh with what the Palestinians want.

According to Bowman, the key obstacle to a true two-state solution is Hamas.

“There is no viable path to a two-state solution as long as groups such as Hamas exist and retain the means to do what they did on Oct. 7,” he said.

“Hamas and other terror groups like it that refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist are the primary reason there is not a Palestinian state today,” he said.

“I am not optimistic regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace until more Palestinians come to see Hamas and terror groups like it as the primary obstacle to peace and a better life.”