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Support for two states drops below 50% among Jewish Israelis & Palestinians alike

Given alternatives to a two-state solution, nearly 20 percent of Jewish Israelis said they would opt for a ‘definitive war,’ and nearly 40 percent of Palestinians said they support armed struggle.

By Yael Marom

Israeli soldiers stop Palestinians at a flying checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stop Palestinians at a flying checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, June 15, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

For the first time in recent years, fewer than half of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution, according to a public opinion poll published Thursday. One of the two populations maintained at least a small majority of support for two states in polls conducted over the past couple of years; the latest poll marked the first time both populations’ support dropped below 50 percent.

Only 46 percent of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support the two-state solution, according to the poll, conducted by Dr. Khalil Shikaki and Walid Ladadwa from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), along with Israeli pollster and +972 Magazine writer Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC). Departing from the trends of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, 83 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel still back a two-state solution.

Asked “What should happen next?” only 26 percent of Palestinians said the two sides need to reach a peace agreement, as opposed to 45 percent last June; 38 percent of Palestinians said they believe armed struggle is the way forward, as opposed to 21 percent in the previous poll. Nineteen percent of Israelis, meanwhile, said they would opt for a “definitive war” against the Palestinians. Last June, only 12 percent supported that option.

Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, take part in military parade marking the second anniversary of the killing of Hamas's military commanders, Mohammed Abu Shamala and Raed al-Attar, August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, take part in military parade marking the second anniversary of the killing of Hamas’s military commanders, Mohammed Abu Shamala and Raed al-Attar, August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The poll was conducted in December 2017, mostly following Trump’s controversial announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, among representative samples of 1,270 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 900 Israelis.

The team partially attributed the declining support for two states to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, which led to violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Another significant factor, according to the pollsters, is a dramatic drop in people’s belief that a two-state solution is still viable. Nearly half of Israeli Jews and 60 percent of Palestinians believe settlements have expanded so much that the two-state solution is no longer feasible, according to the poll. Meanwhile, 48 percent of all Israelis believe the two-state solution is still viable, as opposed to 42 percent who do not.

Furthermore, approximately three-quarters of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian respondents said they think the chances of a Palestinian state emerging in the next five years is low or non-existent (75 percent of Palestinians and 73 percent of Israeli Jews)

Zero-sum game

The study is full of fascinating statistics, examining the positions of respondents vis-a-vis a number of solutions to the conflict — from a one-state solution to a confederation to apartheid and even population transfer. The most interesting part, however, is the way each side view themselves and the other.

Does the other side want peace? Among Palestinians, only 37 percent believe most Israelis want peace. Less than a third of Jewish Israelis (30 percent) think Palestinians want peace. Among Palestinian citizens of Israel, 85 percent believe Palestinians want peace, while 57 percent believe Israeli Jews want the same.

Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el Amud, outside Jerusalem's Old City, following Friday prayers on July 21, 2017. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Clashes erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras el Amud, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, following Friday prayers on July 21, 2017. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Can we trust them? Among Palestinians in the occupied territories a solid majority (89 percent) feels that Jewish Israelis cannot be trusted. Among Palestinian citizens of Israel, the situation is different: 61 percent believe that Jewish Israelis can be trusted, while 30 percent believe they cannot. When it comes to Jewish Israelis, three-quarters believe that Palestinians cannot be trusted, while only 19 percent said they trust Palestinians.

That lack of trust may be attributed to the widely-held worldview on both sides that the conflict is zero-sum. Fifty-one percent of Jewish Israelis subscribe to this view, as do 53 percent of Palestinian citizens of Israel and 72 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

When it comes to fear of the other, 46 percent of Palestinians said they are afraid of Israeli soldiers and armed settlers. Thirty-five percent said they are afraid of all Jews. There are significant differences between respondents in the West Bank and those in Gaza, however, with 53 percent of West Bank Palestinians saying they are afraid of soldiers and settlers, as opposed to only 36 percent in the Gaza Strip. It’s not hard to understand why: many residents of the West Bank are in daily contact with soldiers and settlers — Gazans are not.

Palestinian protesters chant as they surround a donkey cart loaded with tires during clashes with Israeli troops on the Israeli border with Gaza. December 22, 2017. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Palestinian protesters chant as they surround a donkey cart loaded with tires during clashes with Israeli troops on the Israeli border with Gaza. December 22, 2017. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Among Jewish Israelis, a majority of 57 percent said they are fearful of Palestinians, a decline from two polls conducted in the previous year, in which three-quarters of Israeli Jews said they fear Palestinians. Among settlers, it was 79 percent.

Within Israel, 51 percent of Jewish Israelis said they are afraid of Arab citizens, yet only 7 percent of Arab citizens say they are fearful of Israeli Jews; 90 percent say they do not fear them.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where a version of this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Tommy Goldberg

      Fascinating. The most interesting aspect, of course, is how widely the opinions of Palestinian citizens of Israel (a/k/a Arab Israelis) diverge from the opinions of BOTH Jewish Israelis AND West Bank & Gaza Palestinians.

      So what makes those optimistic Arab Israelis different from BOTH other groups?

      They know the “other.” Palestinian citizens of Israel navigate Israeli society and come into contact with Jewish Israelis every day.

      By contrast, most Palestinians from the occupied territories rarely encounter Jewish civilians. And few Jewish Israelis have meaningful interactions with Palestinians.

      So: eliminate fear of the unknown, solve the problem.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      THe so-called fakestinyans are essentuially Jordanians who have rebranded themselves after losing a war that they started. Thus, asking them for what they think represents a huge waste of time and energy. Rather than interrogating the enemy, it will be better to repatriate the enemy.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        This is a fake rebranding, as an initiated and lost war, of a reactive and as yet unlost resistance struggle. It is also a fake rebranding of neighbors as enemies. (Palestinians and Israelis are stuck with one another whether they like it or not.) It is also a fake rebranding of Jordan, something Zionists use to covet and claim for glorious Greater Israel, as a 21st Century ethnic cleansing repository. Thus, one might say that the so-called Greater Israelis rebranded themselves after losing a war that they started for Greater Israel.

        Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Lewis: That reminds me of a personal story relevant to your idea: in the early 2000’s I was driving around a guy from Yesh Gvul, and in the backseat of my car he declared that if Israel expelled the Palestinians he would leave the country.

        What struck me about his comment was that he thought it was possible.

        Reply to Comment
      • john

        lewis has not read Primo Levi: “Many people – many nations – can find themselves holding, more or less wittingly, that ‘every stranger is an enemy’. For the most part this conviction lies deep down like some latent infection; it betrays itself only in random, disconnected acts, and does not lie at the base of a system of reason. But when this does come about, when the unspoken dogma becomes the major premiss[sic] in a syllogism, then, at the end of the chain, there is the Lager. Here is the product of a conception of the world carried rigorously to its logical conclusion; so long as the conception subsists, the conclusion remains to threaten us.”
        lewis insists on seeing his neighbors as strangers and enemies, both existentially threatening, and nonexistent.

        Reply to Comment
    3. BrianG

      In 1947 Britain donated its colony of Palestine to the U.N. to be divided into 2 distinct countries- Palestine and Israel .
      That is the last mention of the country of Palestine by U.N. and the West.
      All we have heard since is apologies and rationalizations for Israel’s military conquests of Palestine.
      Democracy when it is useful for Western Powers.

      Reply to Comment

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