Poll: Stale peace plans turn off Israelis, Palestinians

Most Israelis and Palestinians oppose the kind of peace deal that was under negotiation in the past, a new joint poll by Israeli and Palestinian think tanks has found.

Nearly 60 percent of both Israeli Jews and Palestinians said they were against the permanent status agreement they were presented (one based on previous Israeli-Palestinian peace talks), the poll found.

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.

An Israeli soldier listens to a Palestinian woman at a West Bank protest on Aug. 12. photo/jta-flash90

“It is very clear that a majority of Israelis and Palestinians at this point have responded with opposition to the package,” said Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. “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.

The survey revealed both sides’ mistrust and fear of the other, and showed little consensus on the parameters of peace.

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

The poll found that 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 joint survey conducted by other entities.

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.

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 many Israeli Jews (68 percent) feel that way about Palestinians.

The poll found that secular and left-wing Israeli Jews are more likely to be supportive of the deal, while more religious and right-wing Israeli Jews are less likely to back the plan. Just 16 percent of Israeli settlers in the West Bank are on board, versus 40 percent of non-settlers.

As to who should broker peace, 44 percent of Palestinians prefer multilateral negotiations, while 40 percent of Israeli Jews prefer bilateral talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinians.

Just 18 percent on both sides favor a unilateral approach.

Andrew Tobin
Andrew Tobin

JTA Israel correspondent