P resident Trump too has heard the sirens’ song. Having watched virtually every recent predecessor (with the exception of George W. Bush) crash and burn while trying to navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of Middle East peacemaking, he has nevertheless decided to plunge ahead.

A more modest or intellectually curious man than Trump might have first wondered why those earlier efforts ended in failure before proclaiming the task of Middle East peacemaking to be “not nearly so difficult as everyone seems to think.” But the presidency, it would seem, does not attract those lacking in self-regard. Perhaps that is why recent presidents have proven so prone to repeating one another’s mistakes.

James Kirchik points out, for instance, that every post-Cold-War administration has come into power determined to “reset” relations with Russia. Each new president is convinced that all that was lacking heretofore was his unique charm and intelligence or his ability to look into Putin’s eyes and read his soul — at least until Putin handed him his head on a platter.

“The basic parameters of the final deal are well known” is a phrase that comes up repeatedly in Middle East peacemaking. If that were the case, one could understand how the author of The Art of the Deal might reasonably feel that his business experience uniquely suits him to finding the right combination of carrots and sticks to bring the parties to that foregone conclusion.

It is, however, most emphatically not the case that the final parameters are well known — and certainly not to the Palestinians. In the April Mosaic, Daniel Polisar surveys over 400 public opinion surveys of the Palestinian population, most of them conducted by Palestinian research organizations. When Palestinians are asked about the so-called Clinton parameters offered at Camp David in 2000, which are thought to define the final deal that “everyone knows,” they overwhelmingly reject each one of them. Two-thirds of Palestinians oppose Israel retaining any settlement blocks, even if the Palestinians are fully compensated in land area. But without settlement blocks, which constitute about three percent of Judea and Samaria, there can be no peace. No Israeli government could evacuate and destroy the homes of half a million citizens, including nearly 300,000 in Jerusalem, without triggering a civil war.

Recall that the “Clinton parameters” preceded the withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza, both of which became launching pads for missiles against Israel. And even in 2000, the proposals put on the table by then-prime minister Ehud Barak were way beyond the Israeli consensus.

The idea of transferring security control of Judea and Samaria rightfully terrifies Israelis, who expect any Palestinian state to quickly become a failed state and a haven for terrorists, just as post-Gaddafi Libya has become. The civil war in the West Bank would only be bloodier and longer than it was in Gaza following Israeli withdrawal.

Yet even the most minimal Israeli security guarantees — e.g., a demilitarized Palestinian state, early warning stations in the Jordan Valley rift for 15 years — are rejected by between 65 to 75 percent of Palestinians.

ANOTHER SHIBBOLETH of Middle East peacemaking is that the Palestinians have made a strategic commitment to peace. Not so. When a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River is added to the list of choices, it is overwhelming the first choice of Palestinians. Employing the peace polling techniques he first developed in Northern Ireland, Colic Irwin found that 82% of Palestinians view a state in all of “historic Palestine” — i.e., from the river to the sea — as essential or desirable.

The Palestinian-Israel dispute remains what it has always been: a religious war. At least on the Palestinian side. Islam rejects the possibility of a non-Islamic state controlling land that was formerly in Islamic control (dar al-Islam). The existence of Israel remains a stain on the honor of Arabs and their god.

Palestinians overwhelmingly deny any historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and refuse to accord any legitimacy to a Jewish state. In 16 different polls, an average of 88 percent of Palestinians rejected the acceptance of an educational curriculum that eschews all demands for a return to “historic Palestine.” Investigative journalist David Bedein has just produced a video made in 59 UNRWA refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza. In those camps (30 percent financed by American funding), writes Sol Stern of City Journal, a daily drama of “redemption and return” is played out.

The highest percentage of those denying any legitimacy to the State of Israel is among the youngest cohort — 92 percent. The young have been raised on nonstop incitement against Jews and Israel in the official Palestinian media and educational system since the signing of the Oslo Accords.

The celebration of “martyrdom” in fighting against the Jews is a staple of Palestinian education. But the Palestinian Authority goes beyond celebrating terrorism against Jews; the PA incentivizes terror against Israelis. The 2016 PA budget included $140 million for payments to terrorists sitting in Israeli jails, with payments rising in proportion to the length of sentence — in other words, the number of Israelis killed or maimed. Another $175 million goes to families of “martyrs,” including suicide bombers.

In short, Palestinian-Israel peace is not just another New York real estate deal in which the two sides are jockeying for a slightly larger share of the pie. It is one characterized by the most intractable religious fervor on the Palestinian side. And for that, nothing in President Trump’s experience has prepared him.

GHAITH AL-OMARI, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former PA negotiator, argues in response to Polisar’s Mosaic essay that a Palestinian leadership with sufficient credibility — i.e., a Palestinian Nelson Mandela — could perhaps bring a reluctant Palestinian street to reconcile to a two-state deal.

We will never know, as no such Palestinian leaders exist. Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 12th year of his four-year presidential term as head of the PA, has shown clearly that he fears his own people. Even the far more revered Yasser Arafat told President Clinton at Camp David that acceptance of Clinton’s proposals, or even a counter-offer, would have made him a dead man walking in the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian leadership has been hoisted on its own petard: Endless incitement against Israel and Jews in the Palestinian media has made it impossible for the leadership to sign any peace deal.

STILL, IT MIGHT BE ARGUED, President Trump’s efforts at peacemaking will surely crash and burn, but we will be no worse than before. Not so.

The Palestinians truly believe that time is on their side, and that eventually world opprobrium for Israel will bring down the Jewish state. Less than a quarter of Palestinians express any confidence that Israel will still exist in 30 to 40 years.

At the outset of the Obama administration, Abbas came to Washington and announced that he felt no need to negotiate with Israel, and would rely on American pressure on Israeli instead. In a similar vein, he is currently insisting that all negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu be under President Trump’s auspices.

The only way to change Palestinian popular opinion is to make clear to them that Israel is here to stay, US support is strong, and that the consequences of their continued efforts to destroy Israel will only be to worsen their situation.

Passage and implementation of the Taylor Force Act (named after a US army veteran who was knifed to death by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel in March 2016) would be a good first step. That act requires the cut-off of American funding of the PA, as long as it is paying stipends to terrorists who murder Americans or Israelis.

Ceasing all funding to UNRWA would be a second step. There is no reason Palestinians should enjoy a different status than all the other tens of millions of refugees created by ethnic strife since 1948. Only the Palestinians remain refugees in perpetuity and pass that status to their children and their children’s children. The sooner the world closes the fetid refugee camps, in which hatred of Israel and dreams of returning to ancestral homes are bred, the sooner there can be a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem would be another signal to the Palestinians that it is time to give up revanchist fantasies.

What most certainly will not help — and will only make things worse — is for President Trump to simply pick up the script dropped by Obama, and carry on as if nothing has changed.

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 660. Yonoson Rosenblum may be contacted directly at rosenblum@mishpacha.com.