With a corrupt P.A. or lawless militant HAMAS in power -- who are incapable of instituting a viable economy -- it's anybody's guess.


"In a war of ideas, it is people who get killed". (Stanisław Jerzy Lec)


History knows many proofs of the famous proverb: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". High-minded dreams of some result in sweat, tears and blood of others.

Supporting the Palestinian state is a modern tendency. The problem is that nobody has asked Palestinians themselves what that wanted. It is clear that any inhabitant of Jenin or Nablus would without a hitch tell the BBC or CNN correspondents that he longs for Free Palestine. Any other reaction is impossible in a patriarchal or totalitarian society. When foreigners asked a "Homo Soveticus" about his vital values, he immediately recollected his "Love for Motherland". It didn't stop him from savoring jokes about communist leaders, and having a yen for American tape recorders and jeans.

The recent (May 2011) poll of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) has revealed that 35% of East Jerusalem Arabs would prefer Israeli citizenship, and the same number refrained from answering the question. In case of dividing Jerusalem, 40% said they would try to get over to Israel.

According to a similar poll by Pechter Middle East Polls Institute conducted in January 2011 in 19 Arab quarters of East Jerusalem, 54% of Palestinians prefer to remain under Israeli jurisdiction. 39% were sure that their neighbors were eager to get Israeli passports.

Another PCPO poll was conducted in June 2011 after the reconciliation between FATAH and HAMAS. It showed that Palestinians wanted independence but their major concerns were corruption, unemployment and poverty (36%). Only 30% thought that their most serious problems were Israeli occupation and settlement activity.

This is hardly a sensation. When in 2000 in Camp-David Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister expressed readiness to transfer significant parts of East Jerusalem to Arafat, Arab inhabitants of Shuafat and Beit Hanina villages in the North of Jerusalem started buying dwellings in the village of Beit Safafa in South Jerusalem, which would remain within the borders of Israel.

Over many years, Arabs of the West Bank have tried to move to East Jerusalem and obtain Israeli citizenship. Today Arab speeches can be heard in many Jewish quarters of the city. Arabs, both Christians and Muslims, buy apartments here. However, they don’t hesitate to speak in favor of an independent Palestinian state.

These are the realities of the Middle East that are incomprehensible to a Western observer. However, the phenomenon of "split consciousness" has a simple explanation. On the one hand, Palestinians cherish the dream of their own state and destruction of Israel. On the other hand, they want to exist normally here and now putting off their expectations for an uncertain future.

They don't have any sympathies either for the Jews, or for their state. But they want to get jobs in Israel. Moreover, the citizens of East Jerusalem have numerous advantages: medical and social insurance, good job possibilities, government protection from extortion, corruption and gangster bands. They are also protected from HAMAS -- in case it comes to power -- from imposing on them its cruel way of life as in Gaza.

According to official Palestinian data, a couple of years ago about 12,000 Palestinians worked on settlement construction in the West Bank. It was their main and sometimes the only source of livelihood, which they lost after the Palestinian Authority (PA) prohibited Arabs from doing jobs in the construction of Jewish settlements.

But the PA itself is not able to provide any reasonable alternative. From their own contractors, Palestinians receive 100-150 shekels per day but 350-450 shekels a day from the Israeli contractors. Palestinians hope that the houses constructed by their own hands will one day become their property. But today they desperately need money for existence and look sadly at Romanians and Thais replacing them in construction sites in Israel.

The enlightened world was exulted over Israel leaving the Gaza strip. However, the people of Khan Younis hardly shared that enthusiasm, because they used to earn in hothouses of Gush-Katif more in a month than they now receive in a year in the form of humanitarian help or doing odd jobs.

It is not difficult to foresee what will happen when the world unilaterally recognizes the Palestinian state as the Arab nations are now planning to. Existing economic ties between Israel and the PA will collapse; the West Bank will be cut off from Israel; the political atmosphere will make it impossible for Arabs to work in Israel; and the Palestinian economy that has hardly recovered after long years of crisis will again be plunged into chaos.

According to a PCPO poll, today 26% of Palestinians are ready to leave the West Bank. This is anyone's guess how this number will increase in case of sharp deterioration in the economic situation of the new state.

A Palestinian state, unilaterally or otherwise, will probably be proclaimed one day. But its impact on the life and livelihood of Palestinians is not hard to foresee?

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