Monday, July 14, 2003

Daniel Drezner, Jonathan Edelstein, and Zack Ajmal all have extensive analyses of the poll showing most Palestinians wouldn't return to Israel and subsequent attack on the pollster. Many people, myself included, have argued that the right of return is the greatest obstacle to Middle East peace, as Israel cannot remain a Jewish state if it admits all the Palestinian refugees who used to live there, yet the Palestinians have historically refused to give it up. This poll suggests that there is room for negotiation there - while 95% of Palestinians said Israel should concede the right, only 10% said they would actually use it.

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians said they would accept either compensation and a home in the Palestinian state, or residence in a third country. And as someone whose day-to-day hassles include persuading people that not all Palestinians are terrorists-in-training out to drive the Jews into the sea, I was especially interested in the fact that only 13% of those polled object to any peace deal whatsoever. Still, I feel cautious about whether this can really change the dynamics. The rejectionist forces are especially strong, and none of the moderate Palestinian leaders has really mobilized the street on their behalf against the extremists. Besides which, this is just one poll. But only time will tell...


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