Joint Palestinian-Israeli Public Opinion Poll
Stable Majority Support for Clinton’s Final Status Package Among Israelis but Decline in Support Among Palestinians Large support in both publics for the extension of the cease fire
These are the results of the most recent poll conducted December 6-15 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 the impact of the recent political developments in Israel and primary and local elections in the Palestinian Authority on Israeli and Palestinian attitudes regarding President Clinton’s package for a Palestinian Israeli final status settlement. We examined this package twice before in December 2003 and December 2004. This is the first time we revisit theses issues in the post disengagement era. The findings indicate virtual stability in Israeli majority support for Clinton’s package but a noticeable decline in Palestinian support for this package compared to last December.
The poll further examined both publics’ reactions to the extension of the current ceasefire and to a plan to cope with the members of armed groups belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fateh. Most Palestinians (80%) and Israelis (80%) support the extension of the ceasefire. An overwhelming majority among Palestinians (81%) support the absorbance of the Palestinian armed factions into the Palestinian Authority security forces. More surprisingly, among Israelis, there is also majority support (53%) for this plan for dismantling the Palestinian armed factions.
Two other important issues explored in the Israeli sample were Israelis’ acceptance of negotiations with the Hamas and the release of Marwan Barghouti from prison. 50% of the Israelis support and 47% oppose negotiations with Hamas if this is called for in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. 34% support the release of Barghouti and negotiations with him if this is required to reach a compromise settlement.
Other issues examined in this poll are attitudes towards the Israeli Palestinian Agreement on the Rafah Crossing, and Israeli and Palestinian voting intentions in the coming elections in both political systems.
Total Palestinian sample size is 1316 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 118 randomly selected locations between December 6 and 8, 2005. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 600 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew Arabic or Russian between December 8 and 15, 2005. 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.
Summary of Findings
(A) Clinton Parameters
The Clinton parameters for a Palestinian-Israeli permanent settlement were presented by President Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials December 23, 2000, following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David summit. These parameters address the most fundamental issues which underlie the Palestinian-Israeli conflict including (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 twice before in December 2003 and December 2004. In the current poll we revisit these crucial issues for the first time afterIsrael’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip and following the significant political developments in both societies in recent weeks.
The findings indicate stability in the level of support among Israelis and decline in support among Palestinians compared to one year ago. Among Israelis a majority of 64% support these parameters as a combined overall package just like a year ago. Among Palestinians however 46% support the package now compared to a majority of 54% last year.
Apparently these results reflect the joint impact of each public’s disappointment with the results of the disengagement and the recent dramatic developments in the Israeli and Palestinian political scenes. Among Israelis we would expect increased willingness to compromise given Sharon’s signals of moderation. This is presumably offset by the renewed violence from the Gaza Strip which frustrates many Israelis who supported the disengagement. Palestinian decline in support for Clinton’s parameters similarly reflects the fierce political electoral competition in the PA which feeds more militant attitudes combined with disappointment with the meager outcome the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip yielded.
(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange
Among Palestinians 55% support or strongly support and 42% 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 December 2004. At that time, support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 63% and opposition at 35%.
Among Israelis 53% support and 42% 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 January 2005, 55% of the Israelis supported this component while 43% opposed it.
Among Palestinians, 40% support and 57% 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 December 2004, 46% agreed with an identical compromise while 50% opposed it.
Among Israelis 43% support such an arrangement and 53% oppose it compared to 44% who supported it in January 2004 and 52% who opposed it.
In the Palestinian public 33% support and 65% 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 Israel 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 December 2004, an identical compromise had a higher reception with 44% supporting it and 54% 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 January 2005, 39% supported this arrangement and 60% opposed it.
(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
Among Palestinians 20% support and 78% 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 December 2004 the support of 27% and the opposition of 71%.
Among Israelis 69% agree and 30% disagree to this arrangement compared to 68% who agreed and 30% who disagreed to it a year ago in January 2005.
(5) Security Arrangements
In the Palestinian public 43% support and 55% oppose a compromise whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel will 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 December 2004, 53% of the Palestinians supported this parameter while 45% opposed it.
In the Israeli public 62% support and 33% oppose this arrangement compared to 61% who supported it and 37% who opposed it a year ago in January 2005.
(6) End of Conflict
In the Palestinian public 64% 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 December 2004 the support of 69% and the opposition of 29%.
In the Israeli public 80% support and 18% oppose this component in the final status framework. In January 2005, 76% of the Israelis supported it while 23% opposed it.
The Whole Package
Among Palestinians 46% support and 50% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. In December 2004, 54% supported and 44% opposed such a package.
Among Israelis 64% support and 33% oppose all the above features together taken as one combined package, just like a year ago.
46% of the Israelis know that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package. 39% believe that the majority opposes it. This level of awareness indicates that despite the solid support for the package it has not acquired widespread normative legitimacy in the Israeli public. Among Palestinians 43% believe now that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package and 47% believe that the majority opposes it. In addition a plurality in both Palestinian and Israeli societies believe that the other side’s majority opposes such a package. 46% of the Israelis and 52% of the Palestinians think so.
Summary Table of the Findings
Support for Clinton’s Permanent Settlement Framework Among Israelis and Palestinians (2003-2005)
1) Borders and Territorial Exchange
4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
5) Security Arrangements
6) End of Conflict
(B) Other Conflict Resolution Issues
- 60% of the Palestinians support and 36% oppose the roadmap plan. Among Israelis 65% support the plan compared to 31% who oppose it.
- Despite these levels of support both publics are not very optimistic regarding the pace in which a Palestinian Israeli political settlement will be reached. 23% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians believe a political settlement is not possible ever, 36% of the Israelis and 31% of the Palestinians believe it will be achieved in the next generation or many generation to come, 34% of the Israelis and 19% of the Palestinians think it will be reached in the next decade or the next few years.
- If in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians, Israel will have to release Marwan Barghouti from prison and negotiate with him, 34% of the Israelis support such a step compared to 62% who oppose it.
- 50% of the Israelis support and 47% oppose negotiations with Hamas if Israel will have to do it in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians
- 53% of the Israelis support and 40% oppose a proposal to disarm the organizations that belong to Hamas, Jihad and Fatah by integrating them into the Palestinian security forces under the supervision of the PA. 81% of the Palestinians support the proposal to absorb the members of these armed groups into the security services whereby all armed forces become part of the Palestinian Authority compared to only 17% who oppose it.
- 80% of the Palestinians and 80% of the Israelis support the extension of the cease fire which expires at the end of this month.
(C) Palestinian-Israeli Agreement on Crossings
- 41% of the Palestinians support and 56% oppose the agreement for the opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. According to the agreement, the crossing will be operated by the PA and Egypt under the supervision of European Union and Israeli observers will monitor it through video broadcasts. Among Israelis, 56% support and 40% oppose it.
- With regard to the presence of the European Union observers, 58% of the Palestinians and only 37% of the Israelis oppose their role in the crossing.
- 37% of the Palestinians believe the agreement weakens Palestinian sovereignty compared to 58% who think the opposite.
- 61% of the Palestinians oppose the resumption of violence from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as most (84%) expect that resumption of violence will lead to the closing of the crossing. 62% of the Palestinians also suspect that Israel will not continue to implement the agreement on crossing and movement.
- Following the agreement on crossings, only 19% among Palestinians feel that the freedom of movement between the West Bank and the Gaza strip has improved compared to 57% who expected such an improvement in September. More generally, 45% of the Palestinians believe that the situation in the Gaza Strip has become better than before the disengagement compared to 52% who think it became worse or remained the same. 55% believe Gaza has remained a big prison
(D) Attitudes Towards Settlements and the Disengagement
- An overwhelming majority of the Palestinians (82%) but also 50% of the Israelis see the evacuation of the Israeli settlements from Gaza as a victory for the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel. 48% among Israelis and 17% among Palestinians don’t see it as such. In addition, 68% of the Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Intifada and armed confrontations have helped Palestinians achieve national and political goals that negotiations could not achieve. Nevertheless 46% of the Palestinians don’t see the evacuation of settlements from the Gaza strip as the beginning of the end of the occupation and the establishment of a state compared to 52% who do see it as such.
- Considering the outcome of the disengagement in Gaza, 49% of the Israelis believe they will support future unilateral disengagement plans in the West Bank Compared to 43% who will oppose them.
- The percent of Israelis supporting the dismantling of most of the settlements in the territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians returned to the levels from before the disengagement. 62% supported such a step in June just before the disengagement, and 61% support it now. Israelis’ assessments of the settlements’ contribution to Israel’s national security decreased somewhat following the disengagement. 32% of the Israelis believe that the settlements contribute to Israel’s national security (37% in June), while 40% believe they hurt it (39% in June). 23% think that settlements neither contribute nor hurt (19% in June).
- As to the future of the settlements in the longer run, 64% of the Israeli public, believe that in the coming years the number of settlements in the West Bank will decrease (compared to 50% who thought so in September), 14% expect the number of settlements to increase (19% in September). In contrast, among Palestinians 45% fear that the number of settlements will increase in the future and 42% think it will decline. In September, 52% and 39% respectively thought so.
(E) Israeli Elections
- At the time of the survey, 17% have not decided yet whom to vote for in the coming election, 12% of Israeli eligible voters claim they will not vote. Ariel Sharon’s party “Kadima” obtains 27% of the vote, the Labor party headed by Amir Peretz obtains 15% of the vote, and the Likud 6% of the vote.
- 13% of the Israelis believe that the elections will focus mainly on the political process with the Palestinians, 20% believe it will center around security issues, 48% think it will focus on social/economic issues, and 7% think it will focus on corruption.
- 33% of the Israelis believe that Amir Peretz will deal better with Israel’s social/economic problems compared to 29% who think that Sharon will do it better and 16% who believe in Netanyahu’s skills. However with respect to security and foreign affairs issues, Sharon comes out the favorite with 60% who believe he can deal with those better. 19% believe it is Netanyahu who can handle these issues better, and 12% believe Amir Peretz will do this job better.
- 46% of the Israeli public believe that Sharon leaving the Likud and forming a new party will increase the chances for a peace process with the Palestinians compared to 5% who believe the chances will decline, and 41% who believe it will have no impact. . Among the Palestinians, only 20% believe that Sharon’s step will increase chances for the peace process compared to 36% who believe it will decline and 35% who believe it will have no impact.
- In the same context, 72% of the Israelis believe that Sharon is able to convince the Israeli public to accept a compromise agreement with the Palestinians if such an agreement is reached. Only 29% however think that Amir Peretz will be able to do this.
(F) Palestinian Elections
- If elections are held today, findings show that 78% of the Palestinians would participate (compared to 74% last September).
- Among those intending to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, 50% will vote for Fateh, 32% for Hamas, 9% for other factions and groups including independents, and 9% remain undecided. Last September, Fateh received 47% of the vote, while Hamas received 30%, others factions 11%, and 11% were undecided. In the Gaza Strip, vote for Fateh increases from 47% to 53% during the same period.
- In a closed question, in a contest for the office of PA president between Mahmud Abbas, Mahmud Zahhar, and Mustafa Barghouti, Abbas comes first with 41% followed by Zahhar with 21% and Barghouti with 19%. These results are similar to those obtained in our last poll in September.
- In a closed question with a list of five candidates, in a contest over the office of prime minister, Marwan Barghouti comes first with 36% followed by Zahhar with 20%, Mustafa Barghouti with 14%, Dahlan with 11%, and Qurai with 6%. Last September, Marwan Barghouti received 30%, Zahhar 22%, Mustafa Barghouti 17%, Dahlan 8%, and Qurai 8%.
- Among the whole population (those intending and those not intending to participate in the elections), support for Fateh reaches 45% and Hamas 28%. Last September, support for Fateh stood at 39% and Hamas at 27%. Support for Fateh in the Gaza Strip increases from 40% to 49% during the same period.