I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I've had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. Now why do I say that? Some might say, well, let's let the Palestinians have the West Bank, and have security, and set up a separate nation for the Palestinians. And then come a couple of thorny questions. And I don't have a map here to look at the geography, but the border between Israel and the West Bank is obviously right there, right next to Tel Aviv, which is the financial capital, the industrial capital of Israel, the center of Israel. It's—what the border would be? Maybe seven miles from Tel Aviv to what would be the West Bank…The other side of the West Bank, the other side of what would be this new Palestinian state would either be Syria at one point, or Jordan. And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did near Gaza. Which is that the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel of course would have to say, "That can't happen. We've got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank." Well, that means that—who? The Israelis are going to patrol the border between Jordan, Syria, and this new Palestinian nation? Well, the Palestinians would say, "Uh, no way! We're an independent country. You can't, you know, guard our border with other Arab nations." And now how about the airport? How about flying into this Palestinian nation? Are we gonna allow military aircraft to come in and weaponry to come in? And if not, who's going to keep it from coming in? Well, the Israelis. Well, the Palestinians are gonna say, "We're not an independent nation if Israel is able to come in and tell us what can land in our airport." These are problems—these are very hard to solve, all right? And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, "There's just no way." And so what you do is you say, "You move things along the best way you can." You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem. We live with that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it. We don't go to war to try and resolve it imminently.Outside of Romney's idea that the West Bank borders Syria, and a little oversimplification, this is pretty accurate. Even under the most rosy scenarios, the chances that a Palestinian Arab state would end up being controlled by Iranian proxies within a couple of years is unacceptably high. After all, Hamas did win the last elections, and Gaza today could easily be the West Bank tomorrow.
But here was the reaction from the PLO's envoy to the US:
"The leaked statements by the Republican presidential nominee once again show complete ignorance of facts and realities regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Maen Areikat said in a statement.
"Romney’s allegations that Palestinians are committed to the destruction of Israel are baseless given the fact that Palestinians have expressed support for the two-state solution, and repeatedly recognized Israel’s right to exist."
And here is what Saeb Erekat said:
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Tuesday that comments by US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that the Palestinians did not want peace were “absolutely unacceptable.”So let's look at the numbers.
“We consider these statements absolutely unacceptable,” he told AFP.
“No one has an interest in peace more than the Palestinian people, because peace for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership means freedom and independence from the Israeli occupation,” Erakat said.
The latest PSR poll for which we have the full results, from June 2012, shows that 49% of Palestinian Arabs oppose a two-state solution.
The last Bir Zeit poll (from 2007) showed that 67.5% of those polled preferred a solution where Israel is destroyed.
In the latest PCPO poll from February only 15% supported peace negotiations, as opposed to an imposed solution or a new intifada.
And The Israel Project poll last year showed that the vast majority of those who said they wanted a two-state solution wanted it as a stage to take over all of the area and destroy Israel.
Of course, you can look at this video and see how many Palestinian Arab organizations show their desire for a two-state solution:
On balance, it seems that Romney's off-the-cuff remarks reflect reality more than the outraged soundbites of the PLO's official liars.
But what about the official position of the PLO itself? Surely it supports two states, right?
Well, yes - as long as both states are Arab-majority.
The PLO and the PA has consistently and adamantly refused to accept the formulation of "two states for two peoples." They want "Palestine" to be allowed to ethnically cleanse some half million Jews from its borders, while insisting that Israel must accept millions of Arabs as full citizens in the 1949 armistice lines. I've documented this exhaustively.
Erekat and Areikat are feigning offense at being told what they in fact believe themselves. But if you don't believe me, just find a reporter to ask them the question plainly: do you support two states for two peoples? We know what the answer would be.
(By the way, since Romney's leaked remarks are so newsworthy, when are we ever going to see the videotape of Obama's 2003 remarks at the dinner honoring Rashid Khalidi? Why is one off-the-record video leaked and the other one purposefully buried by the media? What is the line between good journalism and partisanship?)