Poll: Israelis and Palestinians oppose bilateral peace plan

Poll: Israelis and Palestinians oppose bilateral peace plan

Nearly 60-percent were polled as being against an agreement based on previous talks

Benjamin Netanyahu with Mahmoud Abbas
Benjamin Netanyahu with Mahmoud Abbas

Most Israelis and Palestinians oppose the kind of peace deal that has been under negotiation in the past, a new poll found.

Nearly 60 percent of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians said they were against the permanent status agreement they were presented based on previous Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to the joint poll by leading Israeli and Palestinian think tanks. But about a quarter of those opposed would reconsider if the deal were part of a broader regional peace based on the Arab Peace Initiative.

“It is very clear that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians at this point have responded with opposition to the package,” Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, told JTA. “However, we were able to easily change their minds simply by adding the Arab peace component. We got close to 55 percent support for the package when it is an Arab-Israeli peace rather than just a Palestinian-Israeli peace.”

The Palestinian think tank and the Israel Democracy Institute, a leading research center in Jerusalem, surveyed 1,184 Israelis and 1,270 Palestinians, revealing little consensus on the parameters of peace and mistrust and fear of the other on both sides — along with some hope for flexibility.

Some 59 percent of Israelis and 51 percent of Palestinians support a two-state solution to the conflict, the poll found. But a majority of Israelis (57 percent) and nearly half of Palestinians (47 percent) think a majority of their people opposes two states.

“This has far-reaching implications because if you feel you are part of the minority, you will be less outspoken and proactive and confident,” Tamar Hermann, the academic director of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, told JTA. “If you belong to the majority but you believe you are part of the minority, you will act like the minority. It’s a spiral of silence.”

One in five Israeli Jews and one in three Palestinians wants a one-state solution, meaning a single state for Israelis and Palestinians rather than an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Last year, 51 percent of both Israelis and Palestinians supported a two-state solution, according to a similar survey conducted annually by the Palestinian center with the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University starting in 2000.

The peace deal offered in the latest poll provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state, reciprocal national recognition, Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders with territorial swaps, the reunification of 100,000 Palestinians with families in Israel, the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites, and the end of conflict and claims. A multinational force would be set up in the Palestinian state, and Israel would maintain two early warning stations in the West Bank for 15 years.

Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin with their Nobel Peace prizes. Image: Sa'ar Ya'acov for the Israel Government Press Office
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin with their Nobel Peace prizes. Image: Sa’ar Ya’acov for the Israel Government Press Office

While 55 percent of Israeli Jews and 59 percent of Palestinians oppose the deal, a minority of Israeli Jews and Palestinians (39 percent) back it, as do 90 percent of Israeli Arabs. Twenty-six percent of those Israeli Jews would be willing to change their mind if the Arab states agreed to peace based on the Arab Peace Initiative, and 25 percent of those Palestinians would do the same if Israel accepted the initiative, which was first proposed in 2002.

There is little trust between Israelis and Palestinians, the poll revealed. The vast majority of Palestinians (89 percent) feel Israeli Jews are untrustworthy, and most Israeli Jews (68 percent) feel that way about Palestinians. A minority of both Israelis and Palestinians (43 percent) believe the other side wants peace, and large majorities on both sides (77 percent of Israelis and 73 percent of Palestinians) think the chance of an independent Palestinian state being established in the next five years is “very low.”

Half of Israeli Jews, 61 percent of Israeli Arabs and 70 percent of Palestinians agree: “Nothing can be done that’s good for both sides; whatever is good for one side is bad for the other side.” (JTA)


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