TEL AVIV – A majority of Palestinians – 54% – believe that Israel is bent on extending its borders to include all the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as well as planning a campaign of ethnic cleansing to expel them, a new poll found.
51% of Palestinians and 59% of Israelis – comprising 53% of Jewish Israelis and 89% of Israeli Arabs – back the two-state solution, according to a joint poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Polling and Survey Research (PCPSR) and the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).
However, when presented with a hypothetical peace deal based on previous negotiations, only 39% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis (39% of Israeli Jews and 90% of Israeli Arabs) supported it.
The poll surveyed 1,270 Palestinians and 1,184 Israelis.
The hypothetical “peace agreement” contained nine points, including mutual recognition, a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with land swaps, the establishment of a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem and an Israeli capital in west Jerusalem (with the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall remaining under Israeli sovereignty and the Muslim and Christian quarters and the Temple Mount under Palestinian sovereignty), and family reunification resulting in the return of 100,000 refugees to Israel.
Among Israeli Jews, support was highest among leftwing Israelis (88%) and secular Israelis (56%), while only 10% of religious Israelis and the rightwing respectively backed the deal. 59% of the Israeli center supported it.
On the Palestinian side, 64% of secular and 34% of religious respondents backed the deal, and 57% of Fatah voters, 25% of Hamas voters, and 49% of voters for other factions supported it.
However, a large number of Israeli respondents opposed to the deal said they would change their mind if it included far-reaching incentives, such as peace with Arab nations in line with the Arab Peace Initiative.
Palestinian respondents who did not back the deal said they would change their minds if Israel would shoulder the responsibility of creating the Palestinian refugee problem.
A majority (64%) of Israelis and a minority (43%) of Palestinians support mutual recognition of the other’s national identity.
22% of Palestinians support bilateral negotiations compared with 41% of Israeli Jews. 44% of Palestinians prefer a multilateral forum in which world powers sponsor negotiations in comparison to 27% of Israeli Jews. In the latter case, 28% of Israelis and 22% of Palestinians would prefer support from an Arab forum (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan).
Only 8% of Palestinians prefer an American-led multilateral forum compared with 26% of Israelis.
A majority of Palestinians (62%) blame the Israelis for the failure of negotiations, while a majority of Israeli Jews (52%) blame the Palestinians. An equal 43% of both believe the other side wants peace.
89% of Palestinians feel Israeli Jews are untrustworthy and 68% of Israeli Jews said Palestinians likewise cannot be trusted.
54% of Palestinians believe Israel aims to conquer more territory and expel the Palestinians. A further 27% think Israel’s goal is to annex the West Bank and deny political rights to the Palestinians.
35% of Israelis (40% of Israeli Jews and 8% of Israeli Arabs) think the Palestinians’ main goal is to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of its Jewish population. 19% of Israelis believe the Palestinians aspire to take over the entire area of the State of Israel.
Tamar Hermann, the academic director of the IDI’s Guttman Center for Surveys, said the poll shows no indication that “we have reached a point of no return.”
Khalil Shikaki, director of Palestinian pollsters PCPSR, agreed with Hermann’s assessment.
“The findings are certainly not encouraging,” he said, “but by no means are they discouraging. They leave room for us as researchers to see if we can bring these two publics closer together in terms of reaching a permanent agreement through various incentives.”