Joint Palestinian-Israeli Public Opinion Poll
Strong Preference among Palestinians and Israelis for a Comprehensive Settlement over an Interim Political Track
11-16 December 2006
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 December 11 and 16, 2006.
The joint poll examined a range of optional tracks for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian political process including the Roadmap, the Arab League (Saudi) plan, and an interim plan postponing the settlement of the refugees issue to the future. We also examined the Israeli leadership's degrees of freedom to begin negotiations with various configurations of a Palestinian government.
The findings indicate strong preference in both publics for the comprehensive settlement option with 58% of the Israelis and 81% of the Palestinians supporting this track compared to only 30% of the Israelis and 16% of the Palestinians supporting an interim track.
The joint poll further examined Israeli and Palestinian attitudes regarding a permanent settlement (along the lines of the Geneva Initiative and President Clinton’s package for a Palestinian-Israeli final status settlement) against the backdrop of the Israeli- Palestinian cease fire in Gaza. The results document a continuing decrease in support for that permanent status package and its parameters among Israelis throughout 2006, and overall stability among Palestinians. Despite the declining trend, among Israelis there is still a majority of 52% who support these parameters as a combined overall package. Among Palestinians, 48% support the package now, compared to 44% in June 2006 and 46% in December 2005 (see summary table below).
Total Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between December 14 and 16, 2006. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 602 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew Arabic or Russian between December 11 and 14, 2006. 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
- 59% of the Israelis and 85% of the Palestinians support the recent cease fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. 85% of the Palestinians support and 14% oppose extending the agreement to theWest Bank.
- The Palestinian public is split half with regard to the effects of launching rockets from the Gaza strip at Israeli towns. 48% believe it was beneficial to Palestinian interests while 48% believe it was harmful to their interests.
- 52% of the Israelis believe that neither side came out the winner in the current round of the conflict, 28% believe that the Palestinians won, 5% believe that Israel won and 13% believe that both won. Among Palestinians, 24% believe they won, 27% think Israel won, 29% believe neither won, and 18% believe that both sides won.
- 33% of the Palestinians also believe that they will gain more from the recent cease fire while 29% believe Israel will gain more, 25% believe both will gain and 11% think neither side will gain. As to Israelis, 40% believe Palestinians will gain more from the cease fire, 7% believe Israel will gain more 35% think both sides will gain and 16% think neither side will gain.
- As to the impact of the cease fire on the power struggle in the PA, 21% of the Palestinians think that Abu-Mazin and Fateh will gain more politically from the cease fire, 15% think Haniyeh and Hamas, 34% think both will gain, and 24% think neither side will gain more politically from the cease fire. Among Israelis, 29% believe the cease fire works more to the advantage of Haniyeh and Hamas, 23% believe Abu-Mazin and Fateh will gain more from it, 20% think both will gain, and 17% think neither side will gain more.
- Following the Gaza cease fire agreement, both sides’ expectations with regard to its longevity are rather low. 6% of the Israelis and 19% of the Palestinians believe that negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop, 40% of the Israelis and 38% of the Palestinians expect negotiations to resume but some armed attacks will continue, 52% of the Israelis and 37% of the Palestinians believe that confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations.
(B) Clinton/Geneva Parameters
The Clinton parameters for a Palestinian-Israeli permanent settlement were presented by President Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials exactly six years ago, on December 23, 2000, following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David summit. The Geneva Initiative was first made public around the end of 2003. These parameters address the most fundamental issues which underlie the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: (1) Final borders and territorial exchange; (2) Refugees; (3) Jerusalem; (4) A demilitarized Palestinian state; (5) Security arrangements; and (6) End of conflict. We addressed these issues in the past, in December 2003, December 2004, December 2005 and June 2006. In the current poll we revisited these crucial issues for the first time after the second war in Lebanon. In December 2003, respondents were explicitly told that the parameters were those of the Geneva Initiative. However, in the subsequent polls, respondents were not told that these were possible compromises in a final status settlement without explicitly naming the packages as those of Clinton or Geneva.
The findings indicate a slight decrease in support among Israelis and some increase in support among Palestinians compared to six months ago. Among Israelis, a majority of 52% support these parameters as a combined overall package, compared to 55% who supported them in June 2006. These results corroborate the declining support for the Clinton package among Israelis throughout 2006, whereas in January and December 2005 the level of support was 64%. Among Palestinians the level of support fluctuated in 2006 between 44% and 48% in the current poll marking a pattern of stability in Palestinians attitudes in this regard in 2006, down from 54% in December 2004.
(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange
Among Palestinians 61% support or strongly support and 37% oppose or strongly oppose an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the exception of some settlement areas in less than 3% of the West Bank that would be swapped with an equal amount of territory from Israel in accordance with a map that was presented to the Palestinian respondents. The map was identical to that presented to respondents in June 2006, when support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 54% and opposition at 44%.
Among Israelis 44% support and 54% oppose a Palestinian state in the entirety of “Judea, Samaria” and the Gaza Strip except for several large blocks of settlements in 3% of the West Bank which will be annexed to Israel.Israel will evacuate all other settlements, and the Palestinians will receive in return territory of similar size along the Gaza Strip. In June 2006, 47% of the Israelis supported this component while 47% opposed it.
Among Palestinians, 41% support and 54% oppose a refugee settlement in which both sides agree that the solution will be based on UN resolutions 194 and 242. The refugees would be given five choices for permanent residency. These are: the Palestinian state and the Israeli areas transferred to the Palestinian state in the territorial exchange mentioned above; no restrictions would be imposed on refugee return to these two areas. Residency in the other three areas (in host countries, third countries, and Israel) would be subject to the decision of these states. As a base for its decision Israel will consider the average number of refugees admitted to third countries likeAustralia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property. In June 2006, 41% agreed with an identical compromise while 55% opposed it.
Among Israelis 38% support such an arrangement and 60% oppose it. In June 2006 43% supported it and 53% opposed.
In the Palestinian public 39% support and 59% oppose a Jerusalem compromise in which East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty. The Old City (including al Haram al Sharif) would come under Palestinian sovereignty with the exception of the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall that would come under Israeli sovereignty. In June 2006, an identical compromise obtained similar results with 35% supporting it and 63% opposing it.
Among Israelis, 38% agree and 60% disagree to this arrangement in which the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including the old city and the Temple Mount will come under Palestinian sovereignty, the Jewish neighborhoods including the Jewish quarter and the Wailing Wall will come under Israeli sovereignty, East Jerusalem will become the capital of the Palestinian state and West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. In June 2006, 37% supported this arrangement and 60% opposed it.
(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
Among Palestinians 28% support and 70% oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would have no army, but would have a strong security force and would have a multinational force deployed in it to ensure its security and safety. Israel and Palestine would be committed to end all forms of violence directed against each other. A similar compromise received in June 2006 25% support and opposition reached 74%.
Among Israelis 62% support and 36% oppose this arrangement compared to similar levels of 63% support and 36% opposition obtained in June 2006.
(5) Security Arrangements
In the Palestinian public 42% support and 55% oppose a compromise whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel would have the right to use the Palestinian airspace for training purposes, and would maintain two early warning stations in the West Bank for 15 years. A multinational force would remain in the Palestinian state and in its border crossings for an indefinite period of time. The task of the multinational force would be to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and to monitor territorial borders and coast of the Palestinian state including the presence at its international crossings. In June 2006, 40% of the Palestinians supported this parameter while 57% opposed it.
In the Israeli public 51% support and 47% oppose this arrangement compared to 52% who supported it and 44% who opposed it in June 2006.
(6) End of Conflict
In the Palestinian public 62% support and 34% oppose a compromise on ending the conflict that would state that when the permanent status agreement is fully implemented, it will mean the end of the conflict and no further claims will be made by either side. The parties will recognize Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples. An identical question received in June the support of 58% and the opposition of 40%.
In the Israeli public 68% support and 30% oppose this component in the final status framework. In June 2006, 70% of the Israelis supported it while 27% opposed it.
The Whole Package
Among Palestinians 48% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. In June 2006, 44% supported and 52% opposed such a package.
This four percentage point increase in the level of support for the package among Palestinians deserves attention given the official and publicly endorsed Hamas government position toward a permanent peace agreement withIsrael. In this regard it is also important to stress the four percentage point increase in the “end of conflict” component which stands in open contradiction to Hamas refusal to such a clause and its willingness to grant Israel only a long range Hudna.
Among Israelis 52% support and 46% oppose all the above features together taken as one combined package. This constitutes a noticeable decline in support for the Clinton final status settlement package compared to six months ago when support stood at 55% support with 40% opposition.
36% of the Israelis assume that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package; 53% believe that the majority opposes it. Among Palestinians 46% believe now that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package and 38% believe that the majority opposes it.
Summary Table: Support for Clinton’s Permanent Settlement Framework (2003-2006)
1) Borders and Territorial Exchange
4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
5) Security Arrangements
6) End of Conflict
(C) Other Optional tracks for the resumption of a political process
In addition to the Clinton parameters for a final status settlement, we examined in the poll a range of other optional tracks for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian political process including the Roadmap, the Arab League (Saudi) plan, and an interim plan postponing the settlement of the refugees issue to future negotiations. In addition we examined the degrees of freedom of the Israeli leadership to begin negotiations with various configurations of a Palestinian government.
- 60% of the Israelis and 49% of the Palestinians support the international Quartet’s Roadmap plan. These figures mark a consistent trend of decline in support for this plan in both publics from a peak of 65% support among Israelis and 60% support among Palestinians a year ago in December 2005. While the Roadmap remained the cornerstone of the Israeli government policy with regard to the resumption of a political process, and it still garners majority support among Israelis, it is losing support in the two publics, presumably because of the stalemate it caused in the process.
- As to the Arab League (Arab Saudi) plan, both publics seem to be quite ignorant about it. 47% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians claimed they have never heard of the plan. Only 22% of the Israelis and 25% of the Palestinians said they know some or most of its details. After briefing our respondents on its essential elements, 29% of the Israelis and 59% of the Palestinians support the plan compared to 69% and 38% respectively who oppose it. This sizeable difference in support can be explained by the vague reference in the plan to the refugees issue and UN resolution 194, which is often interpreted by Israelis as allowing return of refugees to proper Israel and compensation.
- Another option examined in the current poll was to conduct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on an interim settlement whereby a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This option was juxtaposed against negotiations over a comprehensive settlement that would lead to permanent peace and end of conflict, with all issues, including refugees, resolved. The results indicate a strong preference in both publics for the comprehensive settlement with 58% of the Israelis and 81% of the Palestinians supporting this track compared to only 30% of the Israelis and 16% of the Palestinians supporting the interim track. Despite the clear preference among Palestinians for a permanent settlement, a majority of 58% would support and 37% would oppose an agreement that would establish a Palestinian state over 80% to 90% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip to be followed by negotiations between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine to resolve all the other issues such as permanent borders, refugees, holy places in Jerusalem, and others.
- If in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians, Israel will have to release Marwan Barghouti from prison and negotiate with him, 43% of the Israelis support such a step compared to 53% who oppose it.
- 68% of the Israelis support negotiations between Israel and Abu Mazin over a final status settlement. Despite these levels of support only 46% of the Israelis believe that it is possible to reach nowadays a compromise settlement between Abu Mazin and Olmert.
- 66% of the Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government which includes Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement.
- Even when a Hamas-led government is concerned, 54% of the Israelis support and 45% oppose talks with it if needed in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. Among Palestinians, 62% support such talks while 34% oppose them.
(D) Other Conflict Resolution Issues
- A majority of 58% among Palestinians and 63% 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. 40% and 34% respectively disagree to this step. 52% of the Palestinians and 55% of the Israelis believe that a majority in their public supports such a proposal, and 36% and 33% 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 44% of the Palestinians and 42% of the Israelis think the other side public supports this step.
- Both Israelis and Palestinians are split half with regard to their assessments of the achievements of the Palestinian Intifada. 49% of the Palestinians agree and 49% disagree with the claim that the intifada so far has achieved national and political goals that negotiations could not achieve. Among Israelis too, 48% agree and 51% disagree with this claim.
- As to Palestinians' general outlook regarding the prospects of a peace process with Israel, 21% believe that the peace process is not successful in ending the occupation and should be stopped in favor of resorting to armed action; 36% think the peace process should not be stopped because it still might succeed, 27% think the peace process has not failed and should be given more time and in the meanwhile armed action should be stopped, 11% believe that armed action is responsible for the stagnation of the peace process and if it is stopped the peace process would make progress.
(E) Palestinian Domestic Balance of Power
- A majority of 61% supports the holding of early presidential and parliamentary elections and 37% oppose that. If early parliamentary elections are held today, Hamas would receive 36% of the vote and Fateh would receive 42%. 12% would go to other lists and 10% remain undecided.
- If early presidential elections are held today and only two, Mahmud Abbas for Fateh and Ismail Haniyeh for Hamas, were to compete, Abbas would receive 46% of the vote and Haniyeh would receive 45%. 9% remain undecided. But if the presidential race was between Marwan Barghouti, representing Fateh, and Khalid Mish’al, representing Hamas, Marwan Barghouti would receive 57% of the vote and Khalid Mish’al would receive 36%. 7% remain undecided.