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No sooner did Israeli-Palestinian talks start up again, after an intermission of almost two years, than they got snagged again—this time by the Palestinians’ demand that Israel extend its settlement moratorium. The moratorium—a major, unprecedented concession by Israel—was instated from late November last year to late September this year. It garnered no reciprocal gesture whatsoever from the Palestinian Authority, where virulent anti-Israel incitement continued.
Instead, PA president Mahmoud Abbas finally entered talks with Israel toward the end of the ten-month West Bank building freeze, just in time to condition any further talks on its extension. This at a time when Palestinian building in the West Bank—including a whole new city, Rawabi—continues unfettered.
Various media reports give different accounts of how likely it is that the talks will resume, and the positions of the sides. The reports agree, though, that intensive U.S. efforts to rescue the talks continue—President Barack Obama having made an envisioned Israeli-Palestinian peace a central and even obsessive goal.
Of interest, then, is a newly released poll of Palestinian public opinion. It was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, whose director is the respected Palestinian pollster Dr. Khalil Shikaki.
Among the 1270 adult Palestinian interviewees in randomly selected places in the West Bank and Gaza, 66% wanted the Palestinian side to pull out of the talks. The survey was done just after Israel’s building freeze had expired, with small-scale construction resuming in a few settlements. As many have noted, though, previous Israeli-Palestinian talks from 1992 through early 2009 were never made conditional by the Palestinians on an end to settlement construction, which continued throughout that period.
In other words, two-thirds of the Palestinians don’t share President Obama’s enthusiasm for a negotiated agreement with Israel—to the point that they don’t even want negotiations to continue.
Last August 31 four Israeli civilians, including a nine-months-pregnant mother of six, were murdered in their car by Hamas terrorists near Hebron. The attack occurred just as the Israeli-Palestinian talks were set to resume and was viewed as a protest against them.
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