Joint Israeli Palestinian Public Opinion Poll, June 2008
Israelis strongly oppose cease-fire with Hamas
if agreement does not include release of Gilad Shalit; Palestinians strongly oppose such an agreement if it does not include the West Bank or does not stipulate an immediate opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt
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 27 and June 7, 2008.
Assuming that Shalit’s release was part of an agreement, the Israeli public is split in supporting an accord in which Hamas will cease the violent attacks and Kassam launching from the Gaza Strip, and Israel will stop its military operations in the Gaza Strip and remove the closure. The figures were: 50% opposing and 47% supporting such an agreement. If the agreement does not include Shalit, 68% oppose and only 30% support such an agreement. Among Palestinians, 78% support the cease-fire with Israel, but support declines sharply to around 20% if the cease-fire agreement does not include the West Bank or does not stipulate an immediate opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt.
The joint poll also examined Israelis’ and Palestinians’ assessments of the various negotiation tracks including the Israeli-Palestinian track, the Israeli-Syrian track and the Saudi (Arab League) plan.
The poll indicates a hardening of Israeli opposition to the return of the Golan Heights for full peace with Syria: 67% of Israelis oppose such an agreement, compared to 56% in March 2008. There is also a noticeable decline in Israelis’ support for concessions to the Palestinians as embodied in the Clinton parameters or Taba negotiations. These parameters have been considered to be the most realistic framework for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. For the first time since December 2003, support for Clinton’s package decreased below 50% (49%), whereas in previous polls, support reached as high as 64%. Among Palestinians, findings show that two-thirds believe that Syrian-Israeli progress or a peace agreement would contribute to successful Palestinian-Israeli negotiations or have no impact on those negotiations. Minority support among Palestinians for a package along the lines of the Taba negotiations or the Clinton Parameters remains stable at 46%. Recent talks among Palestinians in favor of the one-state solution did not affect their public attitudes, as only 27% support this solution while a majority of 58% prefers the two-state solution.
The weeks preceding the poll were characterized by significant political events in Israel, including the Talanski testimony and Barak’s demand of Olmert to detach himself from political decisions. Israeli data collection began after the Talanski scandal so it reflects the full impact of the testimony. Barak’s statement however was made midway the poll so it reflects only part of its impact. Israelis’ decline in support for concessions to the Palestinians and Syria can be interpreted as a result of the public’s confusion and disillusion with its leadership and Olmert’s loss of legitimacy to conduct negotiations on such crucial issues while being under police investigation.
The Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between June 5 and 7, 2008. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 1006 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew Arabic or Russian between May 27 and June 5, 2008. The margin of error is 3%. The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. 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 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. 022964933 or email email@example.com. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 036419429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(A) Current Negotiation Tracks
- Of all negotiation tracks and options currently under way, 24% of the Israelis believe that the Palestinian track should be most preferred by Israel, 20% believe that the Saudi (Arab League) option which offers a comprehensive peace agreement with all states in return for all the territories occupied in 1967 should be most preferred, and only 12% think that a full peace agreement and normalization with Syria in return for the Golan Heights should be preferred. 32% believe neither track should be preferred and only 2% think that all tracks should be pursued.
- As to which is the most promising track, 25% think it is the Palestinian track, 16% think it is the track with Syria and 17% think so about the Saudi option; 30% of the Israelis think none of the tracks currently underway is promising. These results indicate the depth of Israelis’ disenchantment with the diplomatic venues and options currently on the agenda.
- With regard to support for the main peace initiatives currently underway, our poll indicates noticeable decline among Israelis. Support for the overall package of the Clinton parameters decreased below 50% for the first time since December 2003. 49% of Israelis support the overall package now compared to majority support we found in 4 previous polls in 2005 through 2007. Among Palestinians support remains relatively stable at 46% compared to 47% last December. Opposition among Palestinians for this package stands today at 52% compared to 49% last December.
- 67% of Israelis oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement with Syria, and 22% support it. These figures constitute a significant increase in opposition to the return of the Golan Heights compared to our March poll, where 56% opposed and 25% 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 only marginally - to 27%. In this regard, 32% of the Palestinians believe that if significant progress is made in the Israeli-Syrian talks, it will contribute to successful Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, 26% think that it will represent an impediment to successful Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and 35% think that it will have no impact on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
- 57% of the Israelis oppose and 39% 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 March poll. Among Palestinians, 67% support the plan and 28% oppose it
- It seems that the Talanski affair stripped Olmert of his remaining legitimacy to continue with negotiations over peace agreements. Almost two thirds (64%) of the Israelis believe that it is inappropriate for Olmert to continue peace negotiations while being under police investigation; only 32% think he can continue negotiations under these circumstances. Moreover, only 32% of the Israeli public believe that the Talanski affair is an attempt by the Israeli Right to stop Olmert’s negotiations over peace agreements; 54% don’t believe so and 13% don’t know.
- 55% of the Israelis believe that the meetings between Mahmud Abbas and Ehud Olmert are not beneficial and should be stopped while 36% believe they should continue. Palestinians show even greater disappointment with these talks. Among Palestinians a sizeable majority of 68% believe the talks should come to a halt while only 27% believe they are beneficial and should be continued.
- 50% among Israelis oppose a cease fire agreement with Hamas in which Hamas will cease the violent attacks and Kassam launching from the Gaza Strip, and Israel will stop its military operations in the Gaza Strip and remove the closure; 47% support such an agreement. Opposition increases to 68% if such an agreement will not include the release of Gilad Shalit. Among Palestinians, 78% support the ceasefire with Israel but support declines sharply to 23% only if the ceasefire agreement is restricted to the Gaza Strip and does not include the West Bank. Moreover, support declines further to 20% if the agreement does not stipulate an immediate opening of the crossings, especially the Rafah crossing to Egypt.
- Nevertheless 47% of the Israelis support and 51% oppose talks with Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. However a sizeable Israeli majority (62%) support and only 35% oppose talks with a national unity government composed jointly of Hamas and Fatah if such a government is reestablished. Among Palestinians, if Israel agrees to conduct peace negotiations with Hamas, 60% believe that Hamas should negotiate with Israel and 35% believe it should not.
- Similarly, 43% of the Israelis support and 52% oppose the release of Marwan Barghouti from prison and negotiation with him, if needed to reach such an agreement. 28% of the Israelis believe that there is greater likelihood to reach a compromise agreement if negotiated with Marwan Barghouti, while 36% think that negotiations with Abu Mazin have a greater chance to succeed. 4% believe that both have similar chance to succeed, and 26% - that neither of them is likely to succeed. Among Palestinians, 31% believe that Mahmud Abbas is more able than Barghouti to force Israel to make more concessions in negotiations while 28% believe Barghouti is more able than Abu Mazin in doing so. 11% believe both are equally able to force Israel to concede while 25% believe neither one is able to do so.
- 67% of the Israelis support and 29% 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, 56% support and 43% oppose this step. The results in both publics are the same as in our March poll.
- 69% among Israelis and 66% of the Palestinians believe that the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state during the next five years are non-existent or weak. Only 28% of Israelis and 30% of Palestinians believe chances are fair or high. Despite the fact that only slightly more Palestinians believe that the one state solution is more difficult to achieve than the two state solution, a much larger percentage (58%) prefers the two-state solution and only 27% support the one state solution. The one state solution was presented to the Palestinians 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. The two-state solution was presented as one that entails the establishment of a Palestinian state along side Israel.
(B) Threat perceptions and support of violence
· Among Israelis, 63% are worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life, compared to 74% three months ago, after the shooting attack in the religious seminary in Jerusalem. Among Palestinians 56% fear that their security and safety and that of their family is not assured compared to 63% three months ago in the aftermath of the Israeli major incursion into the Gaza Strip that left more than 130 Palestinians dead.
- With Palestinian threat perception reduced, Palestinians support of armed attacks against Israeli civilians drops considerably from 67% last March to 55% in this poll. Similarly, support for launching rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon drops during the same period from 64% to 57%.
- Among Israelis, 29% suggest that Israel should reoccupy the Gaza Strip and stay there if the shelling of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip continues, just as in our March poll; 43% think that Israel should carry out ad-hoc operations against the shelling and get out compared to 41% in March. Only 22% compared to 27% three months ago believe that Israel should use primarily diplomatic rather than military steps