What do the Palestinians want? The boilerplate answer is that they want their own state, and as far as this goes, it is certainly true. But the issue is far more complex than such a simple rejoinder would suggest.
It is true, then, that the Palestinians want a state, but it is not the state that Israel has offered to facilitate and that Western politicians perceive as the gleaming destination at the end of the road map.
The Palestinians want a totalistic entity built on the debris of Israel, bordering Jordan to the east, the Mediterranean to the west, Lebanon to the north, and Egypt to the south. It is also true that they do not want a state, and the state they do not want is Israel — as the Fatah charter, like the Hamas covenant, makes abundantly clear.
Neill Lochery justly remarks in Why Blame Israel?
that this is the reason they have repudiated every concrete proposal for statehood in the early negotiations when Israel did not yet exist as an internationally recognized nation. That, he writes, “would have led to the establishment of a Jewish state.”
The rejectionist position still holds. When Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, offered to recognize Israel as a Jewish state on certain (unacceptable) conditions, he was immediately condemned for perpetrating a “national crime,” subjected to calls for his removal from office, and forced to retract.