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Palestinian poll: Is the glass half full? Or half empty?

By Dan Fleshler | March 27, 2007

Remember, the title of this blog is “Realistic Dove.”

According to Reuters, Palestinians appear to be split down the middle about whether the unity government should accept the international community’s demands about recognizing Israel, adhering to prior agreements and renouncing violence.

Polls of the Palestinian community are notoriously sensitive to events on the ground. But even though 48% want the unity government to meet these conditions, the poll is troubling. Many left wing Israelis, Americans and others want Israel to negotiate with the unity government without preconditions. Their notion is that there is something intrinsically valuable about talking to the enemy. I usually agree with them wholeheartedly. I still do, but with half a heart.

If Israel talks to the unity government without preconditions, wouldn’t that validate the notion that it is better for the Hamasniks to disregard what the international community wants? Wouldn’t that increase the percentage of people who support Hamas’ refusal to recognize prior agreements? Wouldn’t it improve Hamas’ standing, which is the last thing we need?

Topics: Israel, Middle East peace process, Palestinians | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Palestinian poll: Is the glass half full? Or half empty?”

  1. Victoria Says:
    March 27th, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Israel has no choice but to talk to Hamas, which was democratically elected. Why is it any different than the decision to talk to the PLO? Why shouldn’t there be a new version of the Madrid Conference, where Hamas would be in a hotel room down the street?. The Israelis would look ridiculous but maybe the Kadima leaders could save face and pretend that they are not talking to Hamas.

  2. Richard Silverstein Says:
    March 28th, 2007 at 3:23 am

    I think you’re dancing on the head of a pin on this one. You’re investing yourself in minute questions of political oneupsmanship–who’s on top & who’s not. But let’s keep our eye on the ball. People are dying every day on both sides. Gazans are leading lives of desperation & misery under virtual international siege. Who cares whether Hamas gains pts. or not w. Palestinians.

    Let’s just talk to whoever we need to talk to bring us closer to peace. Do you think you will ever get to peace w/o including Hamas in the deliberations? I’ve read that Israeli intelligence says it would be a disaster for Abbas to call elections right now because Fatah has essentially disintegrated as a viable party. Hamas would win hands down. So you essentially don’t have a viable opposition to Hamas. If you try to angle Hamas out of the political debate it won’t end well for Israel.

  3. Dan F Says:
    March 28th, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Richard,

    I wrote:

    “Many left wing Israelis, Americans and others want Israel to negotiate with the unity government without preconditions. Their notion is that there is something intrinsically valuable about talking to the enemy. I usually agree with them wholeheartedly. I still do, but with half a heart.”

    So I agree with you that there is no chance to make progress without including Hamas in the deliberations. But, like the Iran issue discussed below in my response to you, we need to approach negotiations with our eyes wide open. It would be a disaster for Israel, the Israeli peace camp and the entire region if Hamas gained a firm hold on power and grew more popular. Its popularity would increase if it participated in negotiations while clinging to its refusal to meet any of the conditions. Is that a price worth paying? Yes. But the price should be acknowledged.

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