Joint Israeli-Palestinian Public Opinion Poll


8-13 March, 2005


The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, conducted a joint survey of Palestinian and Israeli public opinion between March 8 and 13 , 2005. 

The poll was designed to examine the preferences of Palestinians and Israelis on how to proceed with the peace process, their attitudes towards the disengagement plan, and their attitudes towards reconciliation after Arafat’s death. 

This is the eleventh joint poll in an ongoing research project on the opinions of the two publics. The first poll was conducted in July 2000 in the wake of the Camp David summit. 

The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University, currently a senior fellow at the US Institute of Peace, and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, professor of Political Science and director of PSR. The two surveys included both identical questions as well as specific questions for each public. A representative sample of 1319 Palestinians in 120 locations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem was interviewed face-to-face with a sampling error of 3%. The interviews were conducted March 10-12. The Israeli data are based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of the general Israeli public with 602 Israelis (sampling error of 4%). The interviews were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian between March 8 and 13. 

The following summary highlights the findings of the joint poll. For further details on the Palestinian survey, contact Dr. Khalil Shikaki at tel. 02-2964933 or email On the Israeli survey, contact Dr.Yaacov Shamir at tel. 202-429-3870 or email

Summary of Results 

(1) How to proceed with the peace process 

  • The poll examined Israeli and Palestinian preferences concerning the next steps that should be taken in the course of the peace process. 84% of the Palestinians and 85% of the Israelis support a return to negotiations on a comprehensive settlement. However the two publics differ greatly on how to proceed with the peace process. 59% of the Palestinians prefer immediate return to final status negotiations on all issues in dispute at once, and 31% prefer a gradual step by step approach. Among Israelis, 57% prefer a gradual a step by step approach and 34% prefer a final status solution of all issues at once.
  •  Despite these preferences, 53% of the Israelis and 51% of the Palestinians say they will support their leadership decision to proceed in the peace process with the approach they prefer less, while 37% of the Israelis and 41% of the Palestinians will not support their leadership decision in such a case.
  • In the same context, 59% of the Palestinians and 60% of the Israelis support the Quartet’s Roadmap plan compared to 35% among Palestinians and 36% among Israelis who oppose it.
  • 70% of the Israelis and 59% of the Palestinians believe that it is possible to reach a compromise settlement with the other side’s current leadership.  27% among Israelis and 41% among Palestinians don’t think it is possible. 61% among Israelis and 62% among Palestinians believe their own leadership is strong enough to convince its constituency to accept such an agreement. 65% of the Palestinians but only 38% of the Israelis believe that the other side’s leadership is strong enough to convince its public to accept such a compromise.
  •   48% of the Israelis believe that Israel should negotiate also with the Hamas if it is necessary in order to reach a compromise agreement; 47% oppose it. Among Palestinians, 79% support the participation of theHamas in the negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel compared to 19% who oppose it.


(2) Assessments of previous peace initiatives

  • Israelis and Palestinians were further asked to assess the reasons for the Oslo process and the Camp David summit failures. Both sides put the blame on the other side. 63% of the Israelis believe that the main reason for why the Oslo process failed was because the Palestinians were not forthcoming enough and maintained the use of violence, but only 5% of the Palestinian think so. Palestinians (54%) put the blame mainly on Israel not being forthcoming enough and continuing to build settlements. Only 20% of the Israeli public think this is the major reason. 10% of Israelis and 33% of Palestinians blame the step by step procedure for the failure.
  •  As to the Camp David summit, 70% of the Israelis but only 5% of the Palestinians believe that it failed because Arafat did not seriously intend to reach a final and comprehensive settlement with Israel. On the other hand, 50% of the Palestinians but only 11% of the Israelis believe it failed because Barak yielded much less than he claimed he did. 13% of Israelis and 36% of Palestinians think the problems were too numerous and the differences too big to be solved all at once.


(3) Sharon’s Disengagement Plan and Settlements

  •   52% of the Israelis support and 44% oppose a referendum on Sharon’s disengagement plan. If a referendum on Sharon’s disengagement plan were held today, 65% of the Israeli public would support it compared to 29% who would oppose it. 49% among Israelis support the participation of Israeli Arabs in such a referendum, compared to 48% who oppose it. 67% of the Israelis support and 30% oppose the dismantling of most of the settlements in the territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
  •  75% of the Palestinians see Sharon’s plan to evacuate the Israeli settlements from Gaza as a victory for the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel, while 23% do not see it as such. Among Israelis, 44% seeSharon’s plan to evacuate the Israeli settlements from Gaza as a victory for the Palestinian armed struggle against Israel, while 50% don’t think it is a Palestinian victory.
  •  30% of the Palestinians and only 9% of the Israelis believe that the Palestinian Authority has high capacity to control matters in the Gaza Strip after Israel’s disengagement, 43% of the Palestinians and 34% of the Israelis think it has reasonable capacity and 23% among Palestinians and 51% among Israelis think it has low or no capacity.
  •  36% of the Israelis believe that if Israel disengages fully in the Gaza Strip Palestinian armed attacks against Israeli targets outside the Gaza Strip will decrease, 27% think they will not change and 31% think they will increase. 29% of the Palestinians in turn support and 68% oppose the continuation of armed attacks against Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip after full Israeli disengagement.


(4) Palestinian Democratization and Expected American Policy

  •  80% of the Palestinians and 66% of the Israelis believe that the successful Palestinian elections for presidency could be seen as a step forward towards democracy in the Palestinian authority, while 17% of the Palestinians and 30% of the Israelis don’t see the elections as such. 35% of the Palestinians and 43% of the Israelis think there are slim chances that a democratic system will be established in the Palestinian Authority or a future Palestinian State. 44% among Palestinians and 35% among Israelis think there are medium chances for that, and 19% of the Palestinians and 20% of the Israelis give it high chances.
  •  35% of the Palestinians and 6% of the Israelis evaluate the current state of democracy in the Palestinian Authority as good or very good, 34% of the Palestinians and 28% of the Israelis think it is fair and 29% of the Palestinians and 61% of the Israelis think democracy is in bad or very bad condition.
  •  55% among Israelis and 79% among Palestinians believe that the US should increase its involvement in trying to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict, while 37% of the Israelis and 15% of the Palestinians say it should decrease its involvement. 

(5) Reconciliation

  •  With Arafat’s departure from the scene and with the renewed political activity, expectations and support for reconciliation following a comprehensive solution increased in a meaningful way for the first time.
  •   41% of the Israelis expect now full reconciliation to be achieved in the next decade or in the next few years compared to only 32% who thought so in June 2004. 24% of the Palestinians expect full reconciliation to be achieved in the next decade or in the next few years compared to 15% last June.
  •  General support for reconciliation among Israelis has also increased and stands now at 84 percent compared to 80% in June 2004. 81% of the Palestinians support reconciliation today compared to 67% last June. More important however is the consistent across the board increase in support for a list of specific reconciliation steps, varying in the level of commitment they pose to both publics.
  •  55% of the Israelis and 89% of the Palestinians will support open borders to free movement of people and goods after a comprehensive settlement is reached, compared to 44% of the Israelis and 82% of the Palestinians who said so last June.
  •  70% of the Israelis and 73% of the Palestinians support joint economic institutions and ventures compared to 66% and 66% respectively last June.
  • ·        43% of the Israelis and 40% of the Palestinians will support joint political institutions designed eventually to lead to a confederate system given a comprehensive settlement compared to 35% of the Israelis and 26% of the Palestinians who said so last June.
  • ·        66% of the Israelis and 42% of the Palestinians support taking legal measures against incitement directed towards the other side compared to 61% of the Israelis and 35% of the Palestinians who said so in June 2004.
  • ·        51% of the Israelis and 13% of the Palestinians will support adoption of a school curriculum that recognizes the sovereignty of the other state and educates against irredentist aspirations. In June 2004 41% of the Israelis and 4% of the Palestinians thought so.