Joint Palestinian-Israeli Public Opinion Poll
Overwhelming Majority Among Israelis and Palestinians for Negotiated Rather than Unilateral Further Disengagements 60% of the Israelis support negotiations with Abu Mazin over a final status settlement
These are the results of the most recent poll conducted March 16-21 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
The joint poll examined Israeli and Palestinian attitudes towards unilateralism in handling the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. These tendencies became prominent on the political agenda in the region following Israel’s disengagement in Gaza and the rise of Hamas to power in the Palestinian Authority (PA). Our results indicate consistent and strong support in both publics for negotiated over unilateral steps in handling the conflict by both sides. Specifically,three quarters of the Palestinians (73%) and Israelis (76%) prefer to see further disengagements in the West Bank negotiated between the PA and Israel. Only 23% of the Palestinians and 17% of the Israelis prefer further disengagements to be unilateral. Moreover, 60% of the Israelis support entering talks with Abu Mazin and the Fateh leadership over a final status settlement.
The survey further examined the impact of the political turnabout in the PA on both publics’ support for mutual recognition of identity and political recognition. Only 37% of the Palestinians support the recognition of the State of Israel by Hamas, while 59% oppose it. However, under conditions of peace and given an independent Palestinian State, 66% of the Palestinians and 68% of the Israelis support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Similar levels of support among Israelis and Palestinians were obtained in September 2005 before Hamas rose to power in the PA.
The Palestinian sample consists of 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between March 16 and 18, 2006. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 603 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic, or Russian between March 16 and 21, 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. 02-2964933 or email email@example.com. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
(A) Unilateralism vs. negotiations in handling the conflict
- · About three quarters of the Palestinians (73%) and Israelis (76%) prefer to see further disengagements in the West Bank negotiated between the PA and Israel while 23% of the Palestinians and 17% of the Israelis prefer further disengagements to be unilateral.
- · A majority in both publics (59% of the Palestinians and 63% of the Israelis) also believe that taking the unilateral path decreases the chances to eventually reach a final status settlement.
- · Consequently, a considerable majority among Israelis (60%) support entering talks with Abu-Mazin over for a final status settlement, while only 38% oppose. These results are highly significant given the internal debate in Kadima between Olmert and Peres on whether to take a unilateral or negotiated path in handling the conflict with the Palestinians.
- · Despite these levels of support, Israelis are not very optimistic with regard to the results of such talks. 46% believe that it is possible these days to reach such a settlement with Abu Mazin and the Fateh leadership while 51% think it is impossible.
- · Given the recent salience of unilateralism on Israel’s political agenda, we examined Palestinians’ attitudes towards unilateral steps that the PA may consider, such as unilateral declaration of an independent state. 59% of the Palestinians would support a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State while 37% would oppose it. However if such a step were negotiated with Israel, 80% of the Palestinians would support it, and 17% would oppose it. As to Israelis, if an independent state were to be declared by Palestinians, 83% of the Israelis would prefer it to be negotiated with Israel while 14% would prefer it to be unilateral.
(B) Attitudes towards full separation
- · 47% of the Palestinians believe it is possible and 51% believe it is not possible to achieve in the future full economic, political, and physical separation from Israel. If such a separation was possible, 75% among Palestinians would support it while 24% would oppose it.
- · As to Israelis, they too prefer fuller rather than partial separation from Palestinians. 56% support and 41% oppose the evacuation of both settlements and the army from parts of the West Bank. However only 41% of the Israelis support and 56% oppose the evacuation of civilian settlements in the West Bank without the evacuation of the army their. 17% support and 80% oppose the evacuation of the army without the evacuation of settlements and 38% support and 58% oppose the evacuation of neither. In the same vein, 61% of the Israelis support and 34% oppose the dismantling of most settlements in the territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
(C) The political turnabout in the PA
(1) Interpretations of Hamas’ victory
The survey examined Israelis’ and Palestinians’ explanations of Hamas victory in the PA and attitudes towards the complex policy dilemmas that both sides face following the political turnabout in the PA.
- · Palestinians and Israelis seem to attribute different reasons to Hamas’ victory in the PA. 37% of the Palestinians and 20% of the Israelis believe that Hamas won because Palestinians wanted an Islamic authority that rules according to Sharia and religion. The prevalent explanation among Israelis however (33%) was that Hamas won because Palestinians wanted a fighting Authority that resists Israel by force but only 7% of the Palestinians think so.
- · Following Hamas victory in democratic elections there is no change in Palestinians’ evaluations of the status of democracy and human rights in the PA. 34% of the Palestinians believe that the current status of democracy and human rights in the PA is good or very good (35%) thought so in December 2005, 26% think it is fair (28% in December) and 37% believe it is bad or very bad (36% in December). Among Israelis however, 6% believe the status and democracy in the PA is good or very good, 22% think it is fair and 70% think it is bad or very bad. A year ago in March 2005, 6% of the Israelis evaluated the status of democracy and human rights in the PA as good or very good, 28% thought it was fair and 61% believed it was bad or very bad.
(2) Israelis’ reactions to Hamas’ victory
- · Only 42% of the Israelis think that the threat to Israel’s security increased following Hamas’ rise to power in the PA. 50% of the Israeli public think the level of threat did not change as a result of it and 7% believe the threat rather decreased.
- · At the same time, 58% of Israelis believe that the aspirations of the Hamas leadership eventually are to conquer the State of Israel or to conquer it and annihilate a considerable part of the Jewish population in the State. Only 38% believe that these aspirations are to take back part or all of the pre-67 territories.
- · On a personal level, 75% of the Israeli Jews are worried and 24% are not worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life. This constitutes a marginal increase in their threat perceptions compared to June 2005 when 71% of the Israeli Jews were worried and 27% were not. As to Palestinians, the level of personal threat also increased somewhat. 75% believe their own and their families’ security and safety are not assured these days compared to 64% who felt so in June 2005. 25% feel their security is assured compared to36% who thought so in June 2005.
- · The majority of the Israeli public (55%) believes there are low or very low chances that Hamas will moderate over time. 44% of the Israelis think there are medium or high chances for this to happen.
- · Nevertheless, 62% think that Israel should talk to Hamas if this is required in order to reach a settlement with the Palestinians while 37% think Israel should not do it. Only 33% of the Israelis however believe that this is the majority position. This suggests that talks with Hamas are not considered normative in the eyes of Israelis.
- · Among Palestinians, 75% think Hamas-led PA should negotiate with Israel if it agrees to conduct peace negotiations with it while 22% think a Hamas-led PA should not negotiate with Israel.
- · Nevertheless, only about a third among Palestinians (37%) support the recognition of the State of Israel by Hamas. 59% oppose it even under international pressure.
(3) Israeli attitudes towards Abu Mazin and Fateh
- · Israelis seem to be less threatened by the Fateh leadership. Only 37% believe their aspirations eventually are to conquer the State of Israel or to conquer it and annihilate a considerable part of the Jewish population in the State; 58% believe that these aspirations are to take back part or all of the pre-67 territories. Thus a considerable majority among Israelis (60%) support entering talks for a final status settlement with Abu-Mazin while only 38% oppose it. Nevertheless only 46% among Israelis believe that it is possible these days to reach such a settlement with Abu Mazin and the Fateh leadership compared to 51% who believe it is impossible.
- · In this regard 19% of the Israelis believe that Abu Mazin and Fateh have the most say nowadays with regard to the PA policy with regard to the conflict with Israel while only 58% believe that it is Hanyeh and Hamas who have the most say in this regard.
- · 34% of the Israelis believe that it is Hanyeh and Hamas who represent more faithfully the position of the majority of Palestinians in the PA with regard to Israel compared to 40% who believe it is Abu Mazin and Fateh who represent Palestinian positions more. 4% think both represent them to a similar extent and 10% think that neither does.
- · As to the influence that Palestinian public opinion has on its leaders, Israelis don’t see much difference in this regard between Fateh and Hamas’ leaderships. 44% of the Israelis think public opinion has little influence on Abu Mazin and the Fateh leadership, 30% think it has medium influence and 22% think it has much influence. With regard to Hamas, 43% of the Israelis think it has little influence on Hamas leadership 23% think it has medium influence and 29% who think it has much influence.
(4) Expectations for future developments
- · Following Hamas victory in the PA elections, 18% of the Palestinians and only 6% of the Israelis believe that negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop, 41% of the Palestinians and 39% of the Israelis believe that negotiations will resume but some armed attacks will continue and 34% of the Palestinians and 52% of the Israelis think that armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations.
- · Following Hamas victory in the PA elections, 59% of the Palestinians and 45% of the Israelis expect negotiations to resume with or without violence continuing. 75% of the Palestinians and 91% of the Israelis expect violence to continue with or without negotiations.
- · These expectations mark a sharp decline in hopes for the resumption of negotiations from what they were before the rise of Hamas in the PA. In our December 2005 poll, 75% of the Palestinians and 72% of the Israelis expected negotiations to resume with or without violence continuing. However expectations with regard to continuing violence have not changed: in December, 77% of the Palestinians and 90% of the Israelis expected violence to continue with or without negotiations.
(D) Long range issues: Reconciliation and mutual recognition of identity
- · 68% of the Israelis and 66% of the Palestinians support a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlement of all issues in dispute. 28% of the Israelis and 32% of the Palestinians oppose such a step. Among Israeli Jews 67% support and 28% oppose this mutual recognition of identity. Similar levels of support among Israelis and Palestinians were obtained in September 2005 before the Hamas rose to power in the PA.
- · 50% of the Israelis and 57% of the Palestinians believe that a majority in their society supports a mutual recognition of identity under conditions of peace and the existence of an independent PalestinianState. These levels of awareness indicate that such a step is acquiring normative legitimacy in both societies.
- · Following the rise of Hamas to power in the PA, there is no change in both publics support for reconciliation under conditions of peace and the existence of a Palestinian state. Among Israelis it stands now at 82% percent compared to 85% in December 2005. Similarly among Palestinians, 74% support reconciliation today compared to 75% who supported it in December.
- · There is also no change in the two publics’ expectations as to when reconciliation will be achieved. 29% of the Israelis expect now full reconciliation to be achieved in the next decade or in the next few years compared to 30% who thought so in December 2005. 18% of the Palestinians expect full reconciliation to be achieved in the next decade or in the next few years now and in December. 27% of the Israelis and 45% of the Palestinians believe now reconciliation is not possible ever compared to 24% of the Israelis and 42% of the Palestinians who thought so in December.
(E) Israeli Elections
- · At the time of the survey, 18% have not decided yet whom to vote for in the coming election. The survey was not designed to predict election outcomes, therefore we do not attempt to “crack” the undecided. 7% of Israeli eligible voters claim they will not vote. “Kadima” obtains 20% of the vote, the Labor party headed by Amir Peretz obtains 13% of the vote, and the Likud 7% of the vote.
- · 24% of the Israelis believe that the security issue will have the most influence on their vote; 10% will be influenced most by the political process with the Palestinians. 34% believe that social economic issues influence their vote most in the current elections, and 10% think they are influenced most by corruption and rule of law issues.
- · 37% of the Israelis believe that among the major parties, the Likud will stand firm in negotiations over territories and peace. 34% believe that of the major parties, it is Kadima that will lead to true peace with the Arabs. 36% believe that the Likud will know best how to deal with terror,.and 44% think that the Likud will best secure a Jewish majority in the state. 55% think that among the major parties, Labor will decrease social gaps. Finally, among the major parties, 33% choose the Likud as the party with corruption in it.
(F) Palestinian Elections
- · If elections are held today, 47% of the Palestinians would vote for Hamas and 39% for Fateh. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas receives 51% of the vote and Fateh 37%. (In this poll 46% said that on the day of the elections in January 25, they have voted for Hamas and 44% said they have voted for Fateh. The actual official figures of the Palestinian Central Elections commission gave only 44% for Hamas and 41% for Fateh.)