September 21, 2017


Bet on Trump or challenge Israel? Palestinians mull strategy` (KARIN LAUB, September 21, 2017, AP)

A majority believes that the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible, despite pledges by President Donald Trump that he would try to broker a deal and a new round of Mideast meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week.

Such skepticism largely stems from continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which some believe has passed the point of no return. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in the past said he does not want to rule the Palestinians, recently declared that Israel cannot give up control over the West Bank. [...]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also bears responsibility for the deadlock because he has been unwilling to challenge Israel and the US, said pollster Khalil Shikaki.

He said it relates to Abbas' conflicting roles as both head of a national movement that seeks to end Israeli occupation and as leader of an autonomy government dependent on foreign aid and Israeli acquiescence to provide services to millions.

Shikaki argued Abbas has been too invested in the status quo and should push harder to translate the General Assembly's 2012 recognition of Palestine along pre-1967 lines into achievements on the ground.

For example, Abbas could make a statement by issuing passports emblazoned with "State of Palestine" in place of the current "Palestinian Authority," Shikaki said.

"What we need is to give ourselves the ability to free our decision-making from these constraints and be in a position to take risks. This is not where the Palestinian Authority is today," he said. "So our leadership lacks credibility, in the eyes of its own public, in the eyes of the Israelis and in the eyes of the international community."

A new survey by Shikaki's Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 67 percent of Palestinians want Abbas to resign, up 5 points from June. The poll, which had an error margin of 3 percentage points, also found 52 percent still support a two-state option, but 57 percent believe it's no longer possible because of Israel's settlements.

Abbas has been silencing dissent, drawing criticism that he is mainly focused on staying in power.

Posted by at September 21, 2017 5:53 AM