Most Arabs Ready for Peace

Matt Duss runs down a recent poll of Arab public opinion which shows that 86 percent of respondents across various countries want to see peace “if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem.”

Perhaps of even greater interest to those who follow the ins and outs of this debate is that few Arabs place a high premium on the “right of return” issue:

There’s a lingering question out there about how the “contiguous” issue can be fudged since a look at the map will quickly confirm that Israel and Palestine can’t both be contiguous in a traditional literal sense. But this is not a very big deal, in my view — you’d have some kind of special access road and you’d need some verbiage about sovereignty.

Now that’s not to say that Arab public opinion doesn’t in some sense “support” the idea of a right of return. But there’s a difference between saying you agree that people evicted from homes on the Israeli side of the border decades ago ought to have a moral right to move back home and saying you’d want to fight on this point of principle rather than free Palestinians from foreign occupation. Point being, in terms of Arab public opinion we’re really still where we were ten years ago when the prospects for peace looked good. The idea that Arabs don’t want peace is perhaps comforting to people who don’t approve of settlements but aren’t particularly eager to see Israel confront settlers, but there’s little basis for it.