Joint Israeli-Palestinian Poll, December 2011
Increase in Israelis’ and Palestinians’ willingness to compromise
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Israelis’ and Palestinians’ willingness to compromise has increased amidst a climate of feud and mistrust - this is a noticeable result of the most recent poll conducted 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 in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem and the Ford Foundation Cairo office. Hereinafter you find a summary of the main results of the survey.
- The Joint Israeli-Palestinian Poll has been tracking the level of support and opposition to the Clinton / Geneva permanent settlement framework regularly since 2003. Amidst a turbulent Middle East and the political and diplomatic stalemate between the two sides, our December poll shows an increase in support for the Clinton permanent settlement framework on both sides. 58% of Israelis and 50% of Palestinians support such a permanent settlement package; 39% of Israelis and 49% of Palestinians oppose it. These results mark a significant increase in both sides’ willingness to compromise compared to recent years.
- At the same time both Palestinians and Israelis perceive the other side as opposing such a settlement: 61% of the Palestinians and 53% of the Israelis think so. About two thirds on both sides do not believe that it is possible to reach a final status agreement these days and see the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the near future as slim.
- Palestinians and Israelis support their government’s position with regard to return to negotiations. 78% of Palestinians support Abbas’s conditions of an acceptable term of reference or a freeze on settlement construction for returning to negotiations, while 69% of Israelis think that Israel should not accept these conditions.
The Palestinian sample size was 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between December 15 and 17, 2011. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 605 adult Israeli Jews interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between December 11 and 14, 2011. The margin of error is 4.5%. The poll was planned and supervised by Prof. 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 Prof. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).
For further details on the Palestinian survey contact PSR director, Prof. Khalil Shikaki or Walid Ladadweh, at tel. 02-2964933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Israeli survey, contact Prof Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email email@example.com.
(A) Attitudes, perceptions and expectations regarding a permanent settlement
The Clinton parameters for a Palestinian-Israeli permanent settlement were presented by President Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials eleven years ago, on December 23, 2000, following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David summit. The Geneva Initiative, along similar lines, was made public around the end of 2003. These parameters address the most fundamental issues which underlie the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: (1) Final borders and territorial exchange; (2) Refugees; (3) Jerusalem; (4) A demilitarized Palestinian state; (5) Security arrangements; and (6) End of conflict. We address these issues regularly since December 2003, and in the current poll we revisited these crucial issues, amidst a turbulent Middle East and the political and diplomatic stalemate between the two sides.
- 58% of Israelis and 50% of Palestinians support a permanent settlement package along the Clinton parameters; 39% of Israelis and 49% of Palestinians oppose such a settlement.
- The results indicate a significant increase in support for the Clinton / Geneva permanent settlement package on both sides compared to recent years. In December 2010, the comparable figures showed 52% support among Israelis and 40% support among Palestinians.
- Since 2003, we observed only once majority support for such a settlement on both sides: in December 2004, shortly after the death of Arafat. The level of support then was 64% among Israelis and 54% among Palestinians. Our current poll comes close to the 2003 results, where among Israelis there is 58% support, and among Palestinians – 50%.
Below we detail support and opposition to the individual items in the Clinton / Geneva permanent status package.
(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange
Among Palestinians 63% support or strongly support and 36% 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 2010, when support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 49% and opposition at 50% - an increase in support of 14 percentage points.
Among Israelis 51% support and 44% 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 December 2010, 49% of the Israelis supported this component while 43% opposed it.
Among Palestinians 45% favor and 53% object 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 like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property. In December 2010, 41% agreed with an identical compromise while 57% opposed it
Among Israelis 42% are supportive of such an arrangement and 51% oppose it. In December 2010, 36% supported it and 52% rejected
In the Palestinian public 40% back and 59% dismiss a 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 Israeli 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 remain under Israeli sovereignty. In December 2010, an identical compromise obtained 36% support and 63% opposition.
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 December 2010, similarly, 38% supported this arrangement and 58% opposed it.
(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
Among Palestinians 32% support and 67% 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 2010, 24% support, and opposition reached 74%. This item receives the lowest level of support by Palestinians, as in previous polls, although the current level of support is the highest since 2003. Unlike the refugees and Jerusalem components, this issue has not received due attention in public discourse, as it should, since it may become a major stumbling block in the efforts to reach a settlement.
Among Israelis 67% support and 33% oppose this arrangement compared to 62% support and 34% opposition obtained in December 2010.
(5) Security Arrangements
In the Palestinian public 50% favor and 49% object a compromise whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel would 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. This is a significant increase in support compared to December 2010, when 38% of the Palestinians backed this parameter while 61% opposed it.
In the Israeli public 63% support and 33% oppose this arrangement compared to 52% who supported it and 39% who opposed it in December 2010 – s similar increase in support as among Palestinians.
(6) End of Conflict
In the Palestinian public 63% agree and 35% disagree to a compromise on ending the conflict, stating that the full implementation oft the permanent status agreement 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. In December 2010 58% supported and 41% opposed this item.
In the Israeli public 70% back and 27% reject this component in the final status framework. In December 2010, similarly, 68% of the Israelis supported it while 25% opposed it.
The Whole Package
Among Palestinians 50% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. In December 2010, 40% supported and 58% opposed such a package.
Among Israelis 58% support and 39% oppose all the above features together taken as one combined package. In December 2010 52% supported and 39% opposed such a deal.
It is important to see that the pattern of support for the overall package is more than the sum of its parts, suggesting that people’s calculus is compensatory and trade-offs are considered. Despite strong reservations regarding some of the components, the overall package always receives greater support in both publics, where the desirable components and the chance of reaching a permanent status agreement seem to compensate for the undesirable parts.
- Despite the actual majority support for the final status package in Israel, only 34% of the Israelis estimate that a majority in their society supports this package, while 55% believe that the majority opposes it. These perceptions tap the normative facet of public opinion and indicate that the package has not acquired widespread normative legitimacy in the Israeli public. Among Palestinians, who are split in their support for the package, 51% believe that a majority in their society supports it, and 41% believe that the majority opposes it.
- In terms of mutual perceptions, majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians think that there is no majority support for this permanent status settlement package on the other side. 53% of the Israelis think that a majority of Palestinians opposes such a package, and 61% of the Palestinians think that a majority of Israelis objects the package.
- Both sides’ expectations regarding a final status settlement are grim: 68% among Israelis and 62% among Palestinians think it is impossible to reach such a settlement these days.
- Both publics also consider the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to the state of Israel in the next five years to be low. 66% of Israelis and 63% of Palestinians consider these chances to be low or non-existent.
(B) Expectations regarding the recognition by the UN of the Palestinian state
- 52% of Palestinians think that a state of Palestine will become a UN member in 2012, while 42% do not believe so. Among Israelis, 44% think this will happen while 49% do not believe so.
- We asked Palestinians how they think Palestinians can force Israel to withdraw from the territories, if the UN recognizes the Palestinian state, and Israelis what they think Palestinians will do. 47% of the interviewed Israelis think the Palestinians will resume the Intifada including armed confrontations, while 25% think they will start non-violent resistance such as peaceful demonstrations, and 17% think they will return to negotiations with the Israeli government. Palestinians however are split among these three options: 31% think peaceful non-violent resistance can force Israelis to withdraw; 30% think that armed attacks on army and settlers would do so and 32% think that negotiations with Israeli can bring it to withdraw.
(C) Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities
- 47% of Israelis support the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities, 41% oppose it. 56% believe that the majority of the Israeli public supports such a strike, 25% think that a majority objects it.
- Palestinians are split in their evaluation whether Israel will actually carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities: 48% think it will strike, and 48% do not think so.
- 76% of Israelis think that if Israel were to carry out a military strike against Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad would retaliate by carrying out a military strike against Israel; 18% do not think so. 48% of Palestinians support such retaliation by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and 46% oppose it.
(D) Conflict management and threat perceptions
- Palestinians and Israelis support their government’s position with regard to return to negotiations. 78% of Palestinians support Abbas’s conditions for an acceptable term of reference or a freeze on settlement construction for returning to negotiations, while 20% oppose this policy. 69% of Israelis agree with Netanyahu’s position that Israel should not accept these conditions; 29% oppose this position.
- Given the stalemate in the negotiations and the admittance of the Palestinians to UNESCO as a member state, 54% of the Israelis and 38% of the Palestinians think that armed attacks will not stop or even increase and the two sides will not return to negotiations. 37% of the Israelis and 28% of the Palestinians believe that negotiations will continue but some armed attacks will continue as well. Only 5% of Israelis and 27% of Palestinians believe negotiations will continue and armed confrontations will stop.
- In our poll we also examine periodically Israelis’ and Palestinians’ readiness for a mutual recognition of identity as part of a permanent status agreement after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 66% of the Israeli public support such a mutual recognition; 29% oppose it. Among Palestinians, 52% support and 47% oppose this step. In September 2011, 58% of the Israelis were supportive and 36% were against this mutual recognition of identity, among Palestinians, the corresponding figures were 46% of support and 52% of opposition.
- Among Israelis, 50% are worried and 48% are not worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life, compared to 58% who are worried and 42% who are not worried in September 2011. Among Palestinians 70% fear that their security and safety and that of their family are not assured compared to 73% in September.
- The perceived level of threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high. 60% of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 22% think the goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians. The modal category among Israelis is that the Palestinians’ aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel (45%); 22% think the goals of the Palestinians are to conquer the State of Israel. Only 17% of the Palestinians think Israel’s aspirations in the long run are to withdraw from part or all of the territories occupied in 1967; and 29% of Israelis think the aspirations of the Palestinians are to regain some or all of the territories conquered in 1967.
Israel, January 2, 2012