Joint Palestinian-Israeli Public Opinion Poll
In the Backdrop of the Gaza Takeover by Hamas, Israelis and Palestinians Share Grim Expectations of the other Side’s Leadership and the Chances for the Resumption of Negotiations
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 June 12 and 20, 2007. The data for these surveys were collected while the Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip took place. The evaluation of the reported figures must take into consideration this context.
The joint poll examined the two publics’ support of a renewed cease fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian factions and several ideas to promote it including the deployment of international forces on the borders of the Gaza strip, and the security plan proposed by US Secretary of State Rice. In addition we examined assessments of the Arab League (Saudi) plan, the Israeli leadership's degrees of freedom to negotiate with various configurations of a Palestinian government, and an Israeli-Syrian settlement.
- · 89% of Israelis and 76% of Palestinians believed at the time of the survey that armed confrontations between the two sides will continue. 47% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians believed that negotiations will resume. However only 31% of Palestinians believed it is possible to reach a compromise settlement with the current Israeli leadership. Among Israelis, 42% believed that it is possible to reach such a settlement with Abu Mazin, and 25% - with a Palestinian national unity government.
- · 63% of the Palestinians support the security plan proposed by the American Secretary of State last month, compared to 45% among Israelis who support it. The plan requests from the Palestinians the enforcement of law and order, fighting terrorism, preventing rocket attacks on Israel, and preventing smuggling through tunnels. It requests the Israelis to open the crossings of Rafah, Kerem Shalom, and Karni on a regular and permanent basis, to allow passage of people and goods between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and remove checkpoints in the West Bank. Presumably Israelis’ lukewarm support of the plan has been driven by fears of renewed violent attacks by Hamas following its takeover of Gaza if checkpoints are removed and Gazacrossings are open, echoing Israeli security authorities’ concerns.
- · Regarding another closely related issue, the deployment of international forces along the borders of Gaza, Egypt and Israel, in order to prevent arm smuggling and rocket launching on Israel, a considerable majority among Israelis (65%) support this step, while 35% of the Palestinians support it. Three years ago in June 2004, 53% of the Israelis and 60% among Palestinians supported the deployment of such an armed force.
Given the blowing of war winds in the region and speculations about a new war in the summer we attempted to asses the impact of these speculations on Israelis’ expectations and attitudes toward the use of force versus peaceful means to cope with threats that Israel faces.
- · 46% of the Israelis believe that another war can be expected this summer while 42% do not expect such a war.
- · 15% of the Israelis also believe that a ground operation in the Gaza strip can prevent a coming war in the summer while 49% believe that such an operation will rather promote war.
And Given the difficulties the Palestinians confront in their domestic scene, we attempted to assess how the Palestinian public views its options regarding the future of the PA, possible confederation with Jordan, and the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years.
- · 41% of the Palestinians want to dissolve the PA and replace it with an international trusteeship (26%) or return to full Israeli occupation (16%). 49% oppose the dissolution of the PA.
- · 42% support the establishment of a confederation with Jordan and 52% oppose that.
- · 70% believe the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years are low or nonexistent and 26% believe the chances are medium or high.
The joint poll further examined Israeli and Palestinian assessments of the capability of both leaderships to reach a political settlement these days.
Total Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between June 14 and 20, 2007. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 598 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic, or Russian between June 12 and 19, 2007. The margin of error is 4%. 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. 02-296 4933 or email email@example.com. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(A) Cease Fire Agreement and the renewal of the political process
- · At the time of the joint poll, Israelis and Palestinians do not hold high hopes regarding the resumption of negotiations. Only 17% of Palestinians and 9% of the Israelis believe that negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop. 34% of the Palestinians and 38% of the Israelis think that negotiations will resume but some armed attacks will continue. 41% of the Palestinians and 51% of the Israelis believe that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations
- · 70% of the Israelis believe that neither side came out a winner in the current round of the conflict, 12% believe that the Palestinians won, 10% believe that Israel won and 5% believe that both won.
- · 9% of the Israelis also believe that Israel will gain more from the recent cease fire while 33% believe Palestinians will gain more, 40% believe both will gain and 16% think neither side will gain.
- · As to steps which can help to sustain a cease fire, 35% of the Palestinians and 65% of the Israelis support a proposal to deploy international armed forces in the Gaza Strip, especially on the border with Israel andEgypt to prevent arm smuggling and rocket launching on Israel. 61% and 29% oppose this proposal respectively.
- · Similarly, 63% of the Palestinians and 45% of the Israelis support the American security plan, which was presented to the Palestinians and Israelis last month. The plan requests from the Palestinians the enforcement of law and order, fighting terrorism, preventing rocket attacks on Israel, and preventing smuggling through tunnels. It requests from the Israelis to open the Rafah, Kerem Shalom, and Karni crossings on a regular and permanent basis, allow passage of people and goods between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and remove checkpoints in the West Bank. 36% of the Palestinians and 52% of the Israelis oppose this plan.
- · 40% of the Israelis support and 57% oppose the release of Marwan Barghouti from prison and negotiations with him in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians.
- · 60% of the Israelis support negotiations between Israel and Abu Mazin over a final status settlement.
- · Despite these levels of support only 42% of the Israelis believe that it is possible to reach nowadays a compromise settlement between Olmert and Abu Mazin. In December 2006, 46% believed so.
- · Similarly, 50% of the Israelis support and 46% oppose negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government which includes Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement. However only 25% of Israelis believe that it is possible, and 70% think it is impossible to reach a compromise settlement with the Palestinian national unity government. In March 2007, 33% believed this is possible. This drop in Israelis’ optimism regarding the chances to reach an agreement between the two leaderships is likely a reaction of Israelis to the leadership crisis in the PA, following the recent events in Gaza.
- · As to Palestinians, 31% believe it is possible and 65% think it is impossible to reach a compromise settlement with the current Israeli leadership.
- · A majority of 60% among Palestinians and 64% of the Israelis agrees with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the conflict, there would be mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. 38% and 30% respectively disagree. 51% of the Palestinians and 48% of the Israelis believe that a majority in their public supports such a proposal, and 37% and 36% respectively think the majority opposes it. However both publics are only partly aware of the majority support for such a step in the other side. Only 43% of the Palestinians and 35% of the Israelis think the other side public supports this step.
- · Despite the ongoing internal strife in the PA, these levels of support in a mutual recognition of identity did not change much. In December 2006, 63% of the Israelis and 58% of the Palestinians supported such a step.
- · Given the ongoing events, both publics are quite pessimistic regarding the chances for such a mutual recognition (marking support in a two state solution) to materialize. Only 26% of the Palestinians and 39% of the Israelis believe that there are medium or high chances that a Palestinian State will be established in the next 5 years. 70% of the Palestinians and 59% among Israelis believe that these chances are nil or low.
- · 66% of the Palestinians and 43% among Israelis believe that a political settlement will never be reached or only in many generations to come, 13% and 33% respectively think it will come in the next generation or next decade, and only 13% Palestinians and 18% Israelis think it will come in the next few years.
(B) The Arab league plan and negotiations with Syria
- · In addition to the Palestinian arena, we examined in the poll both publics’ attitudes regarding the Arab League (Saudi) plan, and Israelis’ attitudes toward a settlement with Syria over the Golan Heights.
- · As to the Arab League (Saudi) plan, and after briefing our respondents on its essential elements, 36% of the Israelis and 66% of the Palestinians support the plan compared to 59% and 31% respectively who oppose it.
- · When we framed the reference to the refugees issue in terms of President Clinton’s approach to the issue, support for the Saudi plan decreased among Palestinians and slightly increased among Israelis. Under this framing 46% of the Palestinians and 39% of the Israelis support the Saudi plan while 49% and 52% respectively oppose it.
- · 47% among Israelis believe that Israel should and 50% think that Israel should not enter negotiations with Syria's President Assad on full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement
- · 25% of the Israelis support and 60% oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement with Syria.
- · Israelis’ support for the return of the Golan Heights increases noticeably when presented with the proposal to demilitarize the Golan Heights and to turn it into a recreational park under Syria's sovereignty, but administered jointly with Israel. Israeli citizens would be allowed to enter the park freely for vacation and recreational purposes. Under these terms, 31% support and 56% oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement.
(C) Other Conflict Related and Conflict Resolution Issues
- Given the current difficulties confronting the Palestinians, we examined Palestinian public perceptions of various threats and options:
- · A majority of Palestinians (56%) believe that the most serious threat confronting the Palestinians today is infighting and lawlessness, followed by poverty (21%), Israeli occupation and settlements (12%) and finally international boycott and sanctions (10%).
- · A large percentage (41%) of the Palestinians wants the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority but a larger percentage (49%) opposes that. The percentage of those in favor of dissolving the PA is divided among those who want it replaced with international trusteeship (26%) and those who want it replaced with a return to full Israeli occupation (16%).
- · Similarly, 42% of the Palestinians support the establishment of a confederation with Jordan while 52% oppose that. The percentage of those in favor the confederation solution is divided among those who want it now (25%) and those who want it only later after the establishment of a Palestinian state (17%).
- · Overwhelming majority of 82% of the Palestinians view acts such as the kidnapping of foreigners, the burning of internet cafe’s, and the bombing of foreign schools as criminal deserving condemnation while only 3% view them as nationalistic and deserving support. In the Gaza Strip, 85% view these acts as criminal and 2% as nationalistic.
- · Given the blowing of war winds in the region and speculations about a new war in the summer 46% of the Israelis believe that another war can be expected this summer while 42% do not expect such a war. We attempted to asses Israelis’ attitudes toward the use of force versus peaceful means to cope with threats that Israel faces. Israelis were presented with a list of possible steps Israel could take and were asked to assess the potential of each step to promote or rather prevent a war in the summer. The table below presents Israelis’ assessments of the possible outcomes of these steps.
Percent believing it
can prevent war
Percent believing it can neither prevent nor promote
Percent believing it can promote war
Negotiations with Syria
Negotiations with Abu Mazin
Negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government
Negotiations on the Saudi plan
Preventative attack on Hizballa
A ground operation in the Gaza Strip
Bombing Iran's nuclear reactor
Threatening Syria with harsh measures if it will start a war
- Of all the negotiation options facing Israel these days, the most preferred one is negotiations over the Saudi plan, with 31% of the Israelis chose preferring it most. Second stands negotiations with the Palestinians on a compromise agreement, with 25% preferring it most. Only 17% prefer most negotiations with Assad and Syria over the Golan Heights in return for full peace.17% do not prefer any of these options.
(D) Palestinian Domestic Balance of Power
- · If new parliamentary elections are held today, Fateh would receive 43% of the vote, the same percentage it received three months ago in our March survey. But support for Change and Reform (Hamas) drops from 37% three months ago to 33% in this survey. Support for all other third parties combined stands at 12% and 13% remain undecided.
- · If new presidential elections are held today and the only two candidates were Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, 40% would not participate in these elections. Among those who would participate, 49% would vote for Abbas and 42% for Haniyeh. If the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, non participation would drop to 31%. Among those who would participate, 59% would vote for Marwan Barghouti and 35% for Haniyeh. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti wins against Haniyeh by 55% to 41%.
(E) General mood and attitudes toward democracy
- · 90% of the Palestinians describe current Palestinian conditions as very bad or bad while only 6% describe them as good or very good. 28% of the Palestinians say they want to immigrate to other countries and 23% say they are not proud of being Palestinians. As to Israelis, 44% think Israel’s general condition these days is bad or very bad, 38% believe it to be so-so and 17% describe Israel’s condition these days as good or very good.
- · In the backdrop of the internal strife in the Gaza strip 54% of the Palestinians and 85% of the Israelis see democracy in the Palestinian Authority as a failed system that cannot be implemented in Palestine. 41% of the Palestinians and 10% of the Israelis see democracy rather as a successful system that is suited for Palestine.
- · Nonetheless, 42% of the Palestinians who believe that democracy is a failed system believe that the Palestinian Authority should maintain that democratic system despite its problems, while 45% think that it should abandon it and adopt a non democratic system. 2% of the Israelis think that the current status of democracy and human rights in the Palestinian Authority is very good or good, 12% believe it is so-so, and 84% think it is bad or very bad.