26 October 2020  

Despite stable levels of support for a two-state solution, the two publics display substantial hardening of attitudes regarding a permanent peace package that implements that solution. Nonetheless both publics still prefer two states to any other framework for resolving the conflict. Pairs of zero-sum incentives can raise support somewhat on both sides, showing some flexibility. But trust is declining, and the majority of Palestinians, but also Israelis, agree that annexation will hinder progress towards peace.

Summary Report   Table of findings 

These are the results of Palestinian-Israeli Pulse: A Joint Poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Management at Tel Aviv University with funding from the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah and the Representative Office of Japan to Palestine through UNDP/PAPP.

The two-state solution is still preferred relative to all other options tested, including an equal, democratic one-state solution, an unequal single state, and a two-state confederation. Yet even two- state does not gain support from a majority of either population, and the overall support remains almost unchanged from 2018.

  • 43% of Palestinians support two states, 56% oppose it
  • 44% of all Israelis (42% of Israeli Jews) support two states, 42% are opposed

Alternatives have less support, but the unequal single state is more popular among both sides than frameworks based on equality. A growing portion decline to support any other alternative and reflect a climate in which the publics indicate that the conflict cannot be resolved through political agreement.

  • One equal state: 27% of all Israelis and Palestinians (each) support a single democratic state
  • A two-state confederation is supported by 30% of all Israelis and 29% of Palestinians.
  • One unequal state: When asked if respondents supported their own side governing the entire land with the other side having only partial rights, the results were nearly identical among Israeli Jews and Palestinians, 35% and 36% respectively supported this option.

Substantial hardening of attitudes: Palestinians and Israelis were presented with a peace package identical to the one we presented to them in mid-2018 and representing a modified version of the package we presented to both sides five times during the past four years. Findings show significant drop in support among the two publics.

  • Only 27% of Palestinians support the detailed plan (compared to 42% in mid-2018, a 15-point drop)
  • Among Israelis, 36% of Israeli Jews (compared to 45% two years ago, a 9-point drop) support a permanent peace agreement package, along with 49% of Israeli Arabs.
  • In total, 38% of Israelis support the detailed agreement.

The peace package comprises:  a de-militarized Palestinian state, an Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange, family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees, West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,  the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty and the Muslim and Christian quarters and the al Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount under Palestinian sovereignty, Israeli and the future state of Palestine will be democratic, the bilateral agreement will be part of a regional agreement along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative, the US and major Arab countries will ensure full implementation of the agreement by both sides, and the end of the conflict and claims. Fifty one percent of all Israelis (56% of Israeli Jews) and 70% of Palestinians are opposed to this two-state comprehensive package.

However, both sides show a measure of flexibility when offered incentives, even when the incentive included a matched incentive to benefit the other side.

  • Six different pairs of incentives/costs convinced more Jewish Israelis  to support the detailed plan for two-state solution  mentioned above,  than those who supported the same plan in the initial question; an average of 45% of Israelis who were initially opposed changed their minds in response to the various incentive pairs. Three pairs caused a majority of Jewish Israelis to say they were more likely to support the package.
  • Four pairs of incentives/costs convinced more Palestinians to support the peace package than those who supported the detailed peace plan in the initial question; on average, one-fifth of Palestinians who opposed the initial agreement were prepared to change their minds. None of the paired incentives convinced a majority of Palestinians to say they were more likely to support the detailed two-state peace package.

The Trump plan or the deal of the century: A second peace package was tested in this poll: Trump’s peace plan, or the deal of the century. Like the peace package we have tested over the years, this one was broken into its most important components. The public was asked about each one and the package as a whole. Findings are dramatic: 93% of the Palestinians opposed the plan and 5% accepted it. Among Israelis, a majority of Israeli Jews (51%) accepted it, 30% rejected it, and 19% did not know or were uncertain. A large majority of Palestinians (69%) thought that Israeli Jews would accept the plan. On the Israeli side, two thirds thought the Palestinians would reject the plan.

The deeper divide: Distrust, fear and poor perceptions of the other

Perceptions of the other side have worsened significantly since mid-2018 and are currently at a low point, with the two sides a mirror image of one another.

  • Eighteen percent of Palestinians believe most Israeli Jews have peaceful intentions, and 19% of Israeli Jews say the same about Palestinians. On both sides, roughly three-quarters disagree that the other side has peaceful intentions
  • Ninety percent of Palestinians believe Israeli Jews cannot be trusted, and 79% of Jewish Israelis feel this way regarding Palestinians (these are levels of disagreement with the statement “Israeli Jews/Palestinians can be trusted”)

Annexation: Bad for peace, bad for security, no majority.

Although de jure Israeli annexation has been postponed, the fate of this plan is not yet clear. The survey therefore asked both sides what the impact of annexation would be. Israelis settlers, under five percent of Israeli society, are the only group that showed majority support and perceptions of positive impact. Ironically, a majority of Palestinians concur with settlers about the benefits of annexation – for Israel.

  • When asked if annexation will help or hinder peace, 11% of Israelis thought it would help, and nearly half (47%) think it will hinder peace – the remainder do not believe it will have an impact (28%) or do not know.
  • A large majority of 78% among Palestinians believe annexation will harm peace, and only six percent think it will help.
  • Only 29% of Israelis believe annexation will help Israeli security; more Israelis (39%) believe it will harm security (the rest believe it will have no impact or don’t know).

The Palestinian sample size was 1200 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between 12-26 August, 2020. The margin of error is +/-3%. The Israeli sample includes 900 adult Israelis interviewed through the internet by Midgam in Hebrew and Arabic 12 August and 3 September 2020. The number of Jews interviewed inside Israel is 500, 200 West Bank settlers, and 200 Israeli Arabs. The combined Israeli data file has been reweighted to reflect the exact proportionate size of these three groups in the Israeli society, and to reflect current demographic and religious-secular divisions. The margin of error is +/-4%.  The survey and the following summary have been drafted by Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of PSR, Dr. Nimrod Rosler from Tel Aviv University and Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin


Complete poll summary attached. For more information or interviews: contact Hamada Jaber, PSR Administrator, at hamada.jaber@pcpsr.org or 059-947-4310