A clear majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip oppose a two-state solution to end their struggle with Israel, according to a poll released on Wednesday, commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Sixty percent of those polled, including 55 percent in the West Bank and 68 percent in Gaza, take a hardline position and reject any permanent acceptance of Israel’s existence, instead suggesting their leaders “work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea” as part of a five-year goal.
The responses indicate that fewer than 30 percent of Palestinians now support a “two-state solution”: a West Bank/Gaza Palestinian state in lasting peace with Israel. Even fewer prefer a “one-state solution,” in which “Arabs and Jews will have equal rights in one country, from the river to the sea.” That is the preferred option of a mere 11 percent in the West Bank and 8 percent in Gaza.
Two-thirds of those polled support continued “resistance” against the Jewish state. Two-thirds of those who say they support a two-state solution view such a move as “part of a ‘program of stages’ to liberate all of historic Palestine later.”
The survey, conducted by a leading Palestinian pollster from June 15 to June 17, was the first such poll since the current kidnapping crisis began.
Interestingly, Hamas may not be gaining politically from the kidnapping it is widely believed to have carried out. Asked who should be the president of Palestine in the next two years, a solid plurality in both the West Bank and Gaza named Abbas (30 percent) or other Fatah-affiliated leaders. In stark contrast, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal rated a combined total of just 9% support in the West Bank and 15 percent in Gaza.
The Washington Institute characterized the poll’s results as a sudden, hardline shift within the Palestinian community. But the poll also presented elements of pragmatism: 80 percent of Palestinians would “definitely” or “probably” be in favour of greater job opportunities in Israel, and 70 percent of Gazans strongly favour Hamas maintaining its cease-fire with the IDF – despite generally favoring resistance.
The institute’s scholars concluded from the report that “US policy should seriously consider abandoning all hope for now of a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace deal,” and instead should “focus on immediate steps to lower tensions” and on improving conditions on the ground.
Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, brokered the United States, broke down in April after nine months of negotiations.