A new poll of Palestinians and Israelis finds that with symbolic incentives, a majority on both sides can be convinced to support a two-state solution. But time is only eroding support for two states across the Green Line.
For years, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians supported a two-state solution in principle. After years of atrophy, large swaths of both societies now believe such a resolution to be impossible. That doubt strongly corresponds to sliding support for two states.
If that trend injures the prospects for peace, the next finding of a recent survey of Israeli and Palestinian attitudes towards the conflict — which I conducted together with Palestinian researcher Dr. Khalil Shikaki — adds insult to injury: a slim majority on both sides still support the two-state solution despite everything.
And yet, the poll found that with realistic policy incentives, the attitudes of many who oppose an agreement are flexible and can be changed. Combined with those who already support two states on both sides, a majority is attainable. If Israeli and Palestinian leaders were to forge an agreement, sign it and throw all of their political behind selling it to their constituents, the public on both sides would very likely come along. But not for long.
The analysis here is based on our poll of 1,200 Palestinians and 900 Israelis, conducted in June and early July, through the PCPSR and the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University. The samples are representative of the total population of each side (Jews and Arabs in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank among Palestinians). The full results, full questionnaire, and all other survey details, can be found here.
Fifty-three percent of Israelis and 52 percent of Palestinians support the concept of a two-state solution in theory. After all the detailed items of a two-state solution (based on details we know from previous rounds of negotiations) are read to the respondents, support is lower, and similar on both sides: 43 percent among Palestinians, 41 percent among Israelis. However, only a portion of those opposed are hard and inflexible — a large portion would change their minds in exchange for various policy incentives.
For example, if the agreement stipulated that Palestinians would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, with Jewish history and religious attachment, 43 percent of those who first opposed the detailed agreement would change their minds, and...Read More