On Sunday, we reported that Bezalel Smotrich, in his role as an adjunct minister in the defense ministry, tweeted (Smotrich Reverses 2005 Disengagement in Northern Samaria): “Following the annulment of the disengagement law by the Knesset, the IDF commander of the area signed a parallel order revoking the ban on Israelis staying in the Homesh and the annexation of the settlement to the territory of the Shomron Regional Council for a renewed planning of the yeshiva. Thanks to the Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant for his cooperation in regulating the yeshiva.”
Needless to say, this didn’t go over well in Washington, DC. State Dept. spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted late Sunday night: “Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace and the possibility of a two-state solution. We further underscore the imperative of maintaining the historic status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem.”
So, two jabs in one tweet: the administration is not amused by the legalization of a yeshiva in northern Samaria, and it’s even less amused by Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount on Sunday (Sunday Ben Gvir Prayed on Temple Mount).
Miller’s tweet included a link to a State Dept. press release titled, “Settlements in the West Bank,” that spelled out both cases of lack of amusement:
We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank, which according to Israeli law was illegally built on private Palestinian land. This order is inconsistent with both former Prime Minister Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush Administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden Administration. Advancing Israeli settlements in the West Bank is an obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution.
We are also concerned by today’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem and the accompanying inflammatory rhetoric. This holy space should not be used for political purposes, and we call on all parties to respect its sanctity. More broadly, we reaffirm the longstanding US position in support of the historic status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites and underline Jordan’s special role as custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
The most reliable source these days for the views of PA Arabs is the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which publishes public opinion polls on a variety of issues about four times a year. PSR is considered an independent nonprofit institution and a think tank of policy analysis and academic research.
Here is what their March 2023 survey revealed about what Arabs in the PA and Gaza Strip thinking is regarding “the achievement of a two-state solution,” as Spokesman Miller put it:
- Support for the concept of the two-state solution stands at 27% and opposition stands at 71%. No description or details were provided for the concept. Three months ago, support for the concept stood at 32%. A majority of 74% believe that the two-state solution is no longer practical or feasible due to the expansion of Israeli settlements while 24% believe that the solution remains practical. Moreover, 74% believe that the chances for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel in the next five years are slim or nonexistent while 23% believe the chances to be medium or high. Three months ago, only 69% said the two-state solution was no longer feasible or practical due to settlement expansion.
- Reflecting on the latest UN speech of President Abbas in which he described the situation on the ground in the West Bank as “apartheid” and that the Palestinian people will demand equal rights in one state for two peoples, 22% say that they are in favor of such one-state solution while 75% expressed opposition. Three months ago, support for Abbas’ position on the one-state solution stood at 26%.
- When asked about support for specific policy choices to break the current deadlock, 57% supported joining more international organizations; 49% supported resorting to non-violent resistance; 58% supported returning to armed confrontations and intifada; 52% supported dissolving the PA; and 28% supported abandoning the two-state solution and embracing a one-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. Three months ago, 55% supported a return to armed confrontations and intifada; 48% supported dissolving the PA; and 27% supported abandoning the two-state solution in favor of a one-state solution.
- When asked about the most effective means of ending the Israeli occupation and building an independent state, the public split into three groups: 54% chose armed struggle (55% in the Gaza Strip and 54% in the West Bank), 18% negotiations, and 23% popular resistance. Three months ago, 51% chose armed struggle and 21% chose negotiations.
Finally, this was the “accompanying inflammatory rhetoric” of National Security Minister Ben Gvir during his Sunday visit to the Temple Mount: “We are the owners of Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel.” Should Matthew Miller poll American citizens, including an abundance of Democrats, he’d discover that they have no problem with this statement. In fact, the US president just before Biden even recognized it officially.
By the way, the term “Haram al-Sharif” Miller’s press release uses as the Arab term for the same holy compound, means “Noble Sanctuary” in Arabic, and it has been the traditional Arab name for the site, in recognition of the two Jewish Temples that stood there. The other name was “Bait al-Maqdis,” which literally means “Beit HaMikdash,” the Hebrew name for the Holy Temple. This is why Arab news outlets today (including Haaretz) have dropped those two names in favor of “Al Aqsa,” which is no longer just the name of the mosque at the very edge of the compound (Al Aqsa means “the edge”), but the name for the entire compound.