Not withstanding the growing support of the international community, the Palestinians will be mistaken to assume that the international community will solve their conflict with Israel… Neither the Europeans nor the US who enjoy certain leverage with Israel will be able to force the hand of any hardcore right wing Israeli leader… Only the Palestinians themselves can change the Israeli public perception.
The Palestinians’ constant acrimonious public narrative against Israel has and continues to damage their credibility in the eyes of many Israelis…They are now increasingly focused on evoking international sympathy for their cause, but have failed time and again to appeal to the Israeli public, which matters the most to realise their stated objective of a Palestinian state.The Palestinians appear to be trapped in their rancorous public narrative against Israel, even during the peace negotiations. Coupled with widespread anti-Israeli teaching in schools, regular media attacks and indoctrination in many public and private institutions, this is what Israelis see, hear, fear and believe.The Palestinians fail to understand that they have nurtured persuasive anti-Israeli sentiment among the Palestinians and strong anti-Palestinian feeling among the Israelis, which is to the detriment of peace.It is time for the Palestinians to re-examine the shifting political landscape in Israel and change course now, however incongruous that may be, because it is indispensable to their overall objective.The Palestinians need to recognise that there is a psychological dimension to their conflict with Israel, traced back through decades of mutual hatred and mistrust. The frequent verbal attacks and the characterisation of Israel as a racist and apartheid state only reinforce the Israelis’ resentment and distrust of the Palestinians.The PA [Palestinian Authority] seems to ignore the fact that their constant anti-Israeli public sentiments play into the hands of the powerful right constituency while weakening the hands of the centre and left-of-centre, which represent the majority of Israelis.The Israeli political parties from the centre and left want to hear a language of reconciliation…The Palestinians cannot expect the Israelis to dismiss their public onslaught as empty rhetoric… Only the Palestinians themselves can change the Israeli public perception – not by mere political slogans but by demonstrating that they can be trusted and are a worthy negotiating partner.The Palestinians must separate (draw a distinction) between the Israeli government and people. Every single Palestinian leader must carefully think about how his or her public utterances affect the Israeli electorate, especially during national elections. There is a steady shift to the right and maligning Israel during the campaign will only further strengthen the right and weaken the centre and the left.I am not naive to suggest that by merely changing their public narrative positively the Palestinians will instantly and dramatically alter the political map in Israel in favour of the left and centre. But if the Palestinians want to realise statehood, they must change their rancorous narrative sooner rather than later, and the Israeli elections offer a unique opportunity to begin this shift.