Pessimism among Israelis and Palestinians regarding the prospects for a settlement and a Palestinian state in the next few years, but majorities on both sides support a two-state solution.
Following Obama’s Cairo speech, Israelis’ pessimism decreased somewhat and support for the two-state solution increased slightly
These are the results of the most recent poll conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, between May 21-June 3, 2009. This joint survey was conducted with the support of the Ford Foundation Cairo office and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem. The poll was conducted before Obama’s Cairo speech on June 4. Following the speech, another survey was conducted (June 7-8) which repeated some of the first survey questions on a representative sample of the Israeli public to assess the speech’s impact. We did not conduct a similar poll among Palestinians after the Obama speech.
- 67% of the Palestinians and 62% of the Israelis believe that it is impossible to reach these days a final status agreement. Only 30% and 35% respectively believe it is possible. In the same vein, 69% of the Palestinians and 61% among Israelis think that chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State next to the State of Israel in the next five years are non-existent or low; 28% of the Palestinians and 32% of the Israelis believe the chances are medium or high. Nonetheless, a majority of Israelis (59%) and Palestinians (61%) support a two-state solution. 36% of Israelis oppose it; 23% of the Palestinians support a one-state solution.
- Following Obama’s Cairo speech, Israelis’ support for a two-state solution increased slightly from 59% to 63%. Obama’s speech had greater impact on Israelis’ expectations as to the chances for a final status settlement with the Palestinians and for the establishment of a Palestinian state: Assessment that the chances for a Palestinian state are medium or high increased by 10 percentage points after the speech, and beliefs that it is possible to reach a final status settlement increased by 6 percentage points.
- Among other findings of the joint Truman PSR poll: 43% of the Palestinians feel that nuclearization of Iran holds positive consequences for the Arab region; 33% see it negatively. 52% of the Israelis support the bombing of the Iranian nuclear facilities if the international efforts to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear device fail.
- The poll also reveals that 52% of the Israelis and 50% of the Palestinians would support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and of Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute. While a majority of the publics still supports this mutual recognition of identity, the current figures indicate a decrease in support among both publics compared to past surveys.
The Palestinian sample size was 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between May 21-23, 2009. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 606 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew Arabic or Russian between May 24 and June 3, 2009. The margin of error is 4.5%. The poll was planned and supervised by Prof. Yaacov Shamir, the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Prof. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).
For further details on the Palestinian survey contact PSR director, Prof. Khalil Shikaki or Walid Ladadweh, at tel. 02-2964933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email email@example.com.
(A) Negotiation Tracks on the Agenda
The Israeli-Palestinian track
- 50% of the Israelis support and 48% oppose talks with Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. The same figures were obtained in our March 2009 poll. A sizeable Israeli majority (62%) support and only 31% oppose talks with a national unity government composed jointly of Hamas and Fatah if such a government is reestablished. In March 2009 these figures were 69% and 27% respectively.
- 78% of the Palestinians and 51% among Israelis prefer a comprehensive settlement over an interim one where a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and Gaza while other issues such as refugees would be postponed. Only 18% of the Palestinians and 33% of the Israelis prefer the interim option.
- 68% of the Israeli public don’t believe that the new Israeli government will succeed to lead Israel to a final status settlement with the Palestinians, while 25% believe it will succeed. Similarly, among the Palestinians, 70% do not believe it is possible to reach such a settlement with the new Netanyahu government; 27% think it is possible.
- More generally, 67% of the Palestinians and 62% of the Israelis believe that it is impossible to reach these days a final status agreement; 30% and 35% respectively believe it is possible.
- 69% of the Palestinians and 61% among Israelis think that chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State next to the State of Israel in the next five years are non-existent or low; 28% of the Palestinians and 32% of the Israelis believe the chances are medium or high.
- Nevertheless, 59% of the Israelis support and 36% oppose a two-state solution. Among Palestinians, 61% support the two-state solution while 23% support a one-state solution and 9% support other solutions. The two-state solution was presented to the Palestinians as one “based on the establishment of a Palestinian state along side Israel” while the one-state solution was presented as “one in which Israel is unified with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to establish one state whereby Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews would be equal.”
- Moreover, 52% of the Israelis and 50% of the Palestinians agree that after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute, including the refugees and Jerusalem issues, there will be a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. 41% and 49% respectively oppose such a proposal. While a majority of the publics still supports this mutual recognition of identity, the current figures indicate a decrease in support among both publics compared to past surveys. Among Palestinians, support peaked at 66% in early 2006, and has since been declining steadily. Among Israelis, support has drastically declined following the 2009 elections.
- Following Netanyahu’s refusal to accept the two-state solution and Abbas’s condition for resumption of negotiations that Israel accepts this solution and freezes settlements, 46% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians expect that negotiations will resume but some armed attacks will continue. 40% of the Israelis and 36% of the Palestinians think that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations. 6% of the Israelis and 16% of the Palestinians think that negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop.
The Arab League (Saudi) Plan
- 56% of the Israelis oppose and 36% support the Saudi initiative which calls for Arab recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel after it ends its occupation of Arab territories occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The refugees problem will be resolved through negotiation in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with her and establish normal diplomatic relation. In our March 2009 poll 63% of the Israelis opposed the plan while 33% supported it. Among Palestinians, 57% support the plan and 40% oppose it; in March 2009, 58% supported the plan and 39% opposed it.
- 62% of Israelis oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement with Syria, and 26% support it. If in the peace agreement, Syria will commit to disconnect itself from Iran and stop its support of Hizbulla and Hamas, support increases to 34%
- 69% of the Israeli public do not believe that the new Israeli government will succeed to lead Israel to a peace agreement with Syria, while 22% believe it will succeed.
(B) Conflict Management, Support for Violence, Threat and Conflict Toll Perceptions
- Among Israelis, 27% suggest that Israel should reoccupy the Gaza Strip and stay there if the shelling of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip continues; 42% think that Israel should carry out ad-hoc operations against the shelling and get out; 24% believe that Israel should use primarily diplomatic rather than military steps. Among Palestinians, 51% support and 46% oppose launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and cities like Sderot and Ashkelon.
- 58% of the Israelis believe that Israel can overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza; 36% believe that it cannot.
- Among Israelis, 61% are worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life. Among Palestinians 45% fear that their security and safety and that of their family are not assured.
- 52% of the Israeli public believe that Israel should bomb the Iranian nuclear reactor if the efforts of the international community to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons fail; 35% oppose it. Among Palestinians, 43% feel that nuclearization of Iran holds positive consequences for the Arab region; 33% see it negatively.
- 69% of the Israelis think that the price the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imposed on the Israeli society is high or unbearable; 28% think that it is mid-range or low. However, 60% think the Israeli society can bear this price for decades or forever; 14% think it can bear it another 10 years, and 13% believe that the Israeli society will be able to bear this price another year or two.
- Only 23% of the Israelis feel that Israel’s condition these days is good or very good; 40% say it is so-so; 35% see it as bad or very bad.
- Among Palestinians, only 10% describe the conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as good or very good, 13% say so-so, and 74% say bad or very bad. As to the conditions in the West Bank these days, 31% describe the conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank as good or very good, 27% say so-so, and 38% say bad or very bad.
(C) The Impact of Obama’s Cairo Speech on the Israeli Public
Following Obama’s Cairo speech on June 4th we carried out a second survey which repeated some of the first survey questions on a representative sample of the Israeli public (N=528) to assess the speech’s impact. The interviews took place 3 days after the speech (June 7-8).
- Before the speech, 50% of the Israelis thought that Israel should accept American pressure if the US under the leadership of Obama pressures Israel to accept the two states for two people solution; 42% thought it should reject such pressure. After the speech, willingness to accept such US pressure increased to 52%, and rejection of it decreased by 4 percentage points to 38%. A similar increase of 4 percentage points is observed in Israelis’ support for the two-state solution (59% support before the speech and 63% thereafter).
- As to the Saudi plan, before Obama’s speech, 34% of the Israelis thought that Israel should accept American pressure on this issue, and 53% thought it should reject it. After the speech, there was almost no change, and the figures were 33% and 54% respectively. This stability is consistent with Israeli majority opposition to the Saudi plan, which remained steadfast as well following Obama’s speech.
- Before Obama’s speech, 35% of the Israelis thought that Israel should accept American pressure if the US pressures Israel to join the nuclear non proliferation treaty; 52% thought Israel should reject it. (This question was not asked in the second survey).
Greater differences before and after Obama’s speech were observed in expectations of Israelis with regard to the evolution of the conflict:
- Expectations with regard to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years increased. 42% thought the chances for it are medium or high after the speech, compared to 32% before.
- Similarly, Israeli beliefs that it is possible to reach these days a final status settlement with the Palestinians increased from 35% before the speech to 41% after it.
- Finally, Israeli beliefs in the success of international mediation of the conflict increased following the speech from 49% to 52%, and the percentage disbelieving in such mediation declined from 48% to 42%.