More than half still support a Palestinian state next to Israel
How you read the results of the latest poll done by respected Israeli and Palestinian pollsters depends on whether you want to see the glass as half empty or as half full. For the pessimists, there has been a decline in Jewish Israeli support for the two-state solution, and large parts of the population believe that the other side is not interested in peace. For the optimists, the results find that a nearly-equal majority of both Israelis and Palestinians still support the concept of a two-state solution.
The poll among 1200 Palestinians and 900 Israelis was done in late June and early July, before the latest wave of violence surrounding the Jerusalem holy site the Temple Mount, which Palestinians call the Haram al-Sharif. The researchers were Dalia Scheindlin of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
“I am afraid it will have a negative impact. The threat perception is high,” Shikaki told The Media Line about the recent events in Jerusalem. ‘Palestinians are worried that Israel is about to change the status quo and Israel is worried that Palestinians are trying themselves to change the status quo. It’s too early to conclude this is what will happen in the long run. We have seen similar cases in the past during which attitudes worsen but when things cool down they go back to their original positions.”
Those original positions found that 53 percent of Israelis, and 52 percent of Palestinians support the concept of a two-state solution, meaning an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Interestingly, support among Palestinians in Gaza is up eight points from the last survey in December of last year, while support among Israeli Jews is down two points, part of Scheindlin called “an incremental but steady decline in Israeli support for the two-state solution.”
In a similar survey in 2010, 71 percent of the Israeli public expressed support for the two-state solution.
“It’s significant that it still exists but it shows there’s a closing window for public support,” Scheindlin told The Media Line.
At the same time, a large segment on both sides do not believe that the two-state solution is feasible due to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
However, the poll also tested how opinions would change if there was a peace agreement package based on previous rounds of negotiations. One year ago, 46 percent of all Israelis supported that package, while now it is down to 41 percent. On the Palestinian side, support is up from 39 percent last June to 43 percent today.
That plan includes a demilitarized Palestinian state, and Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines with equal territorial exchange, the return of 100,000 Palestinian refugees to Israel, with west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and a statement about end of the conflict.
If Israel agreed to release all of the 5000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 56 percent of Palestinians who were initially opposed to a two-state solution to support it, meaning that total support would rise to almost three-quarters of all Palestinians.
On the Israeli side, if Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state, recognizing the Jewish historical and religious ties to the region, total Israeli support for a deal would go up to 58 percent.
In addition, each side accuses the other of incitement in education textbooks, and says that removing that incitement would increase support for a deal.