Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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What if You Had a State and Nobody Came?

by Elliott Abrams
November 2, 2011

The world is now watching UNESCO and other UN agencies take up the call for recognition of Palestinian statehood. But an interesting poll suggests that the enthusiasm of the Palestinian political class is greater than that of many Palestinians in Jerusalem for this endeavor.

It’s not that they oppose creation of a Palestinian state. It’s just that they don’t want to live there. Here is the core finding of the poll:

In the wake of Washington’s decision to cut funding to UNESCO, a new phase of diplomatic debate approaches regarding the application for recognition of a Palestinian state “with East Jerusalem as its capital.” Yet new research reveals that a surprisingly large number of the Palestinians who actually reside in the city reject that prospect. Forty-two percent say they would even try to move to Israel if their neighborhood became part of a new Palestinian state. And a statistically equivalent 39 percent say they would prefer Israeli to Palestinian citizenship.

The study has some other dynamite in it. It seems the common understanding that Arabs are being driven from Jerusalem is false:

Demographic research related to the above surveys produces another clear and counterintuitive conclusion: despite libelous rhetoric about the “Judaization” of Jerusalem, Palestinian population growth in the city has outpaced that of Israelis by far. Since 1967, the city’s Israeli population — including in the new neighborhoods beyond the 1949-1967 armistice lines — has indeed grown substantially, roughly doubling from under 250,000 to around half a million today. But over the same period, the Palestinian population has more than quadrupled, from around 70,000 in 1967 to 288,000 at last official count in 2010.

Moreover, the widespread view that Arabs cannot build in Jerusalem is also false:

Only a relatively small minority (24 percent) of east Jerusalem Palestinians now say they are dissatisfied with “the ease or difficulty of obtaining building permits” in the city — a surprising finding given the preoccupation with this problem among some media outlets and NGOs. This marks a sharp decline from November 2010, when two-thirds (66 percent) reported dissatisfaction on this issue. And while 70 percent of the September respondents said that discrimination in municipal services is at least a “moderate” problem, a mere 7 percent named building permits, evictions, or demolitions as examples of such discrimination in response to an open-ended question.

The study was sponsored by The Washington Institute and conducted in September by Palestinian pollster Nabil Kukali of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), in partnership with Pechter Middle East Polls. It can be found here and is worth reading—and then reading again. A great deal of conventional wisdom bites the dust.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Dan Friedman

    Abrams, the truth is of no use here, and neither is reality. You created a Holy Grail called the “peace process” and you and CFR have been chasing it ever since.

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    It wouldn’t be surprising to see a large number of hard-working , peaceful Paletinians prefer life in Israel to a chaotic existance in an eventual haven for the likes of Hamas and the PLO .

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