Joint Israeli Palestinian Poll, September 2008
Sweeping majority of Israelis support release of Marwan Barghouti in return for Gilad Shalit; three-fourths of Palestinians back soldier kidnappings in exchange for Palestinian prisoners
Among other findings of joint Truman-PSR poll: both publics
support continuation of cease-fire agreement with Hamas
Seventy-eight percent of Israelis support and 16 percent oppose the release of Marwan Barghouti from an Israeli prison in return for the release of Gilad Shalit. However only 45 percent support and 50 percent oppose Barghouti’s release if needed in order to negotiate with him a compromise agreement with the Palestinians.
Most Palestinians (59 percent) think that the best way to free prisoners from Israeli jails is to reach a peace agreement that includes freeing all prisoners; 39 percent think that the best way is to kidnap soldiers and exchange them. However, when the question is asked within the context of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, support for kidnapping of soldiers to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners is 74 percent, and only 21 percent oppose such kidnapping.
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 Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, 2008. This joint survey was conducted with the support of the Ford Foundation Cairo office and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem.
With regard to the cease-fire with Hamas, after it has now gone into effect, 55 percent of the Israelis support its continuation and 39 percent oppose it. Sixty-eight percent of the Israelis opposed the cease-fire agreement in the June Truman-PSR poll before it went into effect. Among Palestinians, 78 percent supported it in June and 21 percent opposed it. In the current poll 81 percent support its continuation and 15 percent oppose it.
The joint poll also examined Israelis’ and Palestinians’ assessments of various negotiation tracks, including the Israeli-Palestinian track, the Israeli-Syrian track and the Saudi (Arab League) plan currently on the public agenda; attitudes toward reconciliation; threat perceptions and support of violence; and domestic political affairs.
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 Aug. 28 and Aug. 30, 2008. The margin of error is 3 percent. The Israeli sample includes 611 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between Aug. 25 and Sept. 1, 2008. The margin of error is 4.5 percent. The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).
For further details on the Palestinian survey contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Walid Ladadweh, at tel. 02-2964933 or email email@example.com. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(A) Negotiation Tracks on the Agenda
- 79% of the Israelis believe that the best solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the two-state solution, i.e. the establishment of an independent state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the state of Israel for the Israelis. Only 11% believe that the best solution is the establishment of one state (for Palestinians and Israelis) in all the territories west to the Jordan river. In our June poll, 58% of the Palestinians preferred the two-state solution, and 27% the one state solution.
- 71% of the Israelis support and 25% oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people as part of a permanent status agreement. Among Palestinians, 57% support and 41% oppose this step.
- 59% of the Israelis oppose and 38% 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. These figures did not change from our June poll. Among Palestinians, 68% support the plan and 30% oppose it
- 78% of the Israelis support and 16% oppose the release of Marwan Barghouti from prison in return for the release of Gilad Shalit. However only 45% support and 50% oppose Barghouti’s release if needed in order to negotiate with him a compromise agreement with the Palestinians.
- 31% of the Israelis believe that there is greater likelihood to reach a compromise agreement if negotiated with Marwan Barghouti, while 34% think that negotiations with Abu Mazin has a greater chance to succeed.7% believe that both have similar chance to succeed, and 22% - that neither of them is likely to succeed.
- 57% of the Israelis support and 42% oppose talks with Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. In June 47% supported and 51% opposed such talks. A sizeable Israeli majority (65%) support and only 32% oppose talks with a national unity government composed jointly of Hamas and Fatah if such a government is reestablished.
- 64% of Israelis oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement with Syria, and 25% support it. In our June poll 67% opposed and 22% supported such an agreement. If in the peace agreement, Syria will commit to disconnect itself from Iran and stop its support of Hizbulla and Hamas, support increases somewhat to 31%.
(B) Threat perceptions and support of violence
The weeks preceding the poll were characterized by significant reduction in violent acts after the cease fire between Israel and Hamas came into effect.
- While 68% of the Israelis opposed the cease fire agreement with Hamas and 30% supported it in our June poll, now after it went into effect, 55% of the Israelis support its continuation and 39% oppose it. Among Palestinians 78% supported it in June and 21% opposed it. In our current poll 81% support its continuation and 15% oppose it.
- Among Israelis, 60% are worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life, compared to 63% three months ago. Among Palestinians 53% fear that their security and safety and that of their family is not assured compared to 56% three months ago.
- Most Palestinians (59%) think that the best way to free prisoners from Israeli jails is to reach a peace agreement that includes freeing all prisoners; 39% think that the best way is to kidnap soldiers and exchange them. However, in the context of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, 74% support kidnapping soldiers to exchange them with Palestinian or Arab prisoners, and only 21% oppose such kidnapping.
- In this regard, 49% of Israelis think that Israel should pay almost any price to return Israeli prisoners of war or dead soldiers home because this is a moral obligation of the state. 41% believe that Israel should not release prisoners in return for soldiers’ bodies since this may diminish Arabs’ interest in keeping Israeli prisoners of war alive.
- Among Israelis, 26% suggest that Israel should reoccupy the Gaza Strip and stay there if the shelling of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip continues; 41% think that Israel should carry out ad-hoc operations against the shelling and get out; 27% compared to 22% three months ago believe that Israel should use primarily diplomatic rather than military steps.
- A majority of Israelis (56%) support the bombing of the Iranian nuclear facilities in case all the international measures taken to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon fail; 32% oppose it.
(C) Attitudes toward reconciliation
If a peace agreement is reached, and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel, 70% of the Palestinians and 76% of the Israelis would support a process of reconciliation, While Palestinians would mainly support open borders and economic cooperation, Israelis see more favorably than Palestinians changes in the school curriculum, cessation of incitement in public discourse and social interaction.
84% of the Palestinians and 43% of the Israelis would support open borders;
71% of the Palestinians and 65% of the Israelis would support joint economic institutions and ventures;
41% of the Palestinians and 37% of the Israelis would support joint political institutions designed eventually to lead to a confederate system;
36% of the Palestinians and 57% of the Israelis would support legal measures to prevent incitement against the other side;
13% of the Palestinians and 39% of the Israelis would support a school curriculum, which educates school children to give up irredentist aspirations.
On a personal level, under conditions of peace, 58% of the Israeli Jews would invite a Palestinian friend to their home, and 49% are willing to visit a Palestinian friend in his home. 32% percent of the Palestinians would invite and 32% would visit an Israeli friend.
When asked how soon will full reconciliation between the two people be achieved, 31% of the Israelis and 43% of the Palestinians believe it will never be achieved, 40% of the Israelis and 29% of the Palestinians think it will be achieved only in many generations to come, or by the next generation; 24% of the Israelis and 20% of the Palestinians believe it will be achieved in the next decade, or the next few years.
(D) Domestic political affairs
If personal elections for prime minister were held today in Israel, 30% would vote for Bibi Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni would receive 19% of the vote, Shaul Mofaz would get 10%, and 11% would vote for Ehud Barak. Netanyahu is also considered by Israelis as the best candidate to lead the country toward peace with the Palestinians and/or Syria: 29% of the Israelis think he is the most able to do so; 16% choose Tzipi Livni; Barak comes out third with 9%, and Mofaz receives 8%. When security challenges are concerned, 29% of the Israelis trust Bibi Netanyahu most, 20% trust Barak, 16% trust Mofaz, and only 9% believe in Livni.
In the Palestinian Authority, if presidential elections were to take place today, Mahmud Abbas, the Fatah nominee, would receive 53% of the vote, while Ismail Haniyeh as the Hamas nominee would receive 39% of the vote.