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What do Israelis think of 1967 borders with swaps?

The raging controversy over President Barack Obama’s speech last week, in which he explicitly called for a Palestinian state to be created based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps, caught me personally by surprise. The notion of  a Palestinian state has always essentially been conceptualized around the 1967 occupied territories, and the peace negotiations of the last two decades have essentially focused on this. Mr. Obama himself clarified this boldly and precisely in his speech at AIPAC today.

Whether or not American Presidents have said it, the Israeli public could not have been surprised – as the notion has been on the table very explicitly over the last decade. Further, numerous polls have tested various formulations. Below is a selection of data – chosen at random, from readily available sources, over the last decade.

*For readers’ convenience, I have left out the detailed survey information, but all the links provide the full surveys and all the relevant methodological information.


March 2002: Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (Tel Aviv University) Peace Index
“In light of the severe security situation, there are two possible extreme solutions: transfer of the residents of the territories, or withdrawal to the 1967 lines and settlement evacuation. Which would you choose?”

Jewish sample:

•    Transfer: 29%
•    Withdrawal to 1967: 35%
•    Neither serves Israel’s interests: 29%

July 2002: Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (Tel Aviv University) Peace Index

“If in the framework of this agreement, the Palestinians give up on the right of return, would you support or oppose a return to the 1967 borders, with adjustments to allow the major settlement blocs to remain under Israeli control?

Jewish sample:

•    Support: 48%
•    Oppose: 54%

(percentages add up to more than 100% due to rounding)

November 2002: Search for Common Ground survey

Jewish Sample:

•    51% “Favor a Palestinian State based on ‘67 borders, if Palestinians commit to stop using violence”

•    21% oppose this, only because they do not believe Palestinians will stop using violence, not because they believe Israel should maintain its hold on the territories.

February 2003: Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (Tel Aviv University) Peace Index

“Would you accept the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with certain agreed border adjustments?

Jewish Sample:

•    Accept: 58%
•    Reject: 37% (Jewish and Arab sample: 61% accept, 34% reject)

May 2003: Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (Tel Aviv University) Peace Index

Recently, the press reported a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians called the “Road Map.” The main points of the plan are: in the first stage, the Palestinians will elect a new leadership and a new leader, Abu Mazen, which has been done. The Palestinian leadership will declare unilaterally Israel’s right to exist, and will undertake all means to stop the terror and violence against Israel, including stopping incitement against it. At the same time, Israel will withdraw from the areas it re-entered following the Intifada, dismantle all the illegal strongholds, freeze settlement building and will stop military activities against the Palestinians.

In the second phase, at the start of 2004, a Palestinian state will be established with temporary borders. During this same year, Israel and the Palestinians will conduct negotiations toward a final peace accord that will include reaching a solution on the main points of disagreement, such as the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will live in peace alongside Israel, based on the 1967 borders, with some adjustments.

Jewish Sample:

•    59% support (the whole plan)
•    39% oppose
(61% support, 36% oppose, from the whole population)

December 2003: Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace. Joint Israel Palestinian Poll (JIPP)

(Note: This ongoing survey, undertaken among Israelis and Palestinians several times a year, began asking the following formulation and has asked it regularly up to recent polls. It does not mention the explicit term “1967 borders with adjustments,” but the wording amounts to the same concept. The question was asked repeatedly over the years, and the responses are listed here.)

The Palestinian state will be established in the entirety of Judea Samaria and the Gaza strip territories, except for several large blocks of settlements which will be annexed to Israel and will not exceed 3% of the size of West Bank. Israel will evacuate all other settlements. The Palestinians will receive in return territory of similar size along the Gaza strip. Do you agree or disagree with this item?”

Jewish Sample:

•    45% agree
•    52% disagree

December 2005 (same question, Truman Institute JIPP survey)
•    50% support
•     44% oppose
December 2007 (same question, Truman Institute JIPP survey)
•     44% support
•    54% oppose

June 2008: Truman Institute JIPP

“And of all negotiation tracks to reach a peace settlement Israel is currently involved in, which, in your opinion, is the most promising track with the highest chances to reach a settlement?”

Jewish sample:

  • Permanent settlement with Palestinian state within 1967 bordrs: 26%
  • Peace, normalization with Syria in return for Golan Heights: 15%
  • Comprehensive agreement, Saudi plan, full return of occupied territories: 12%
  • No agreement at all: 34%

March 2009
A research study commissioned by One Voice, and developed by peace research scholar Dr. Colin Irwin was conducted by Dahaf Research.

“Israel should withdraw to the 1967 border with adjustment through agreement of equivalent exchange of land”

•    52% of all Israelis responded that this is “essential,” “desirable,” “acceptable” or tolerable”
•    39% considered it unacceptable.

June 2010: Truman Institute (JIPP) – immediately following the flotilla. The same question was asked as above (“The Palestinian state will be established in the entirety of Judea Samaria and the Gaza strip territories, except for several large blocks of settlements…”). Even at this tense time, the Jewish population split evenly: 44% support this, and 45% are against it.

2007-2010: Geneva Initiative Surveys:

The research conducted by the Geneva Initiative shows opposition to withdrawal to 1967 borders with adjustments during the last few years. In the Geneva research from 2007-2010, just over half the Jewish sample consistently opposes the withdrawal, and roughly 30% support it. Yet, when their surveys ask about the entire package, precisely the opposite trend appears: roughly 54% supports the whole package, and less than 1/3 (about 30%) are opposed in its last published survey, from December 2010.


In sum, the Jewish Israeli public over the last few years tends to be divided regarding levels of support for the explicit notion of returning to the 67 borders, with land swaps/adjustments. However, when presented as part of a larger package of an agreement rather than as an isolated concept, Israelis mostly support such packages with clear majorities. The Jewish public became generally more hard-line after the mid-2000s, following the unilateral settlement dismantling in Gaza, the subsequent electoral rise of the Hamas and its takeover of Gaza in 2007 (see this comprehensive INSS report for evidence of the shift in attitudes following this phase).

The bottom line is that the notion of a Palestinian state based on the1967 borders, with adjustments, has never been shown to drag down support for a comprehensive agreement – were the leaders of this region serious enough to reach one.

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    1. Saeed Hotary

      In true orientalist fashion, you have not polled the Palestinians what we think of this idea

      Reply to Comment
    2. Saeed, Your comment sounds rather hostile. You could have just inquired, and I would have told you the following: I have written separately, and in various places, about Palestinian public opinion, which is quite a separate thing. Some of these surveys contained palestinian data, but inconsistently – some polled Palestinians in Israel, some in the territories, some not at all. That leads to misleading conclusions which i prefer to avoid. When i write about Palestinian polling I try to do it systematically. of course the data here are also not my original polls (which are largely for private clients), so i cannot tell others how to do their work. PS if you have good data, you’re welcome to share it.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Sylvia

      That has been the Israeli majority’s expected outcome since June 12, 1967 -except for the radical fringe (left and right). In my area (the Western Negev) I have never heard anyone mention transfer or anything of the kind but land swaps.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Really great insight – thanks Dahlia.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Saeed Hotary

      Most Palestinians, myself included, dont want to share Palestine with invaders and colonists. That is why it doesnt matter whether a majority or minority of colonialists want the 1967 border. I am just saving you a lot of work. It is the 1948 border that is the problem

      Reply to Comment
    6. max

      Dahlia, it seems like your findings are echoed in some of the comments up here.
      It also seems like if the other commentators reflect the results of your surveys amongst Palestinians, there’s very little left to discuss about.
      Care to share with us your feedback? Thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Dahlia, great work. Very impressive and thorough.

      Saeed, attitudes from people with extremist intolerant attitudes like yours or like those of your counterparts on the Israeli side are the reason why Palestinians and Israelis are suffering. Those who delude themselves to think they can have the whole thing enslave their peoples to have eternal war instead. Unless both peoples recognize their fates are interlinked and that Two States for Two Peoples are the only way to achieve freedom, security, and dignity for all, neither side will see their potential fulfilled.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Koshiro

      The fact that almost a third of Israelis* supported ethnic cleansing of millions of people doesn’t seem to shock anybody. But then again, why would it?

      *By the way, I presume that as usual only Jewish Israelis were polled?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Koshiro

      Oh, yeah. It says “Jewish sample” right on top. Naturally.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Koshiro and others: If you have inquiries about the data, please ask. Hold your hostile tones, that is not the kind of debate I intend to encourage here. Further, if you read the other comments you will find that I already provided a thorough explanation on this point and don’t intend to repeat myself like a schoolteacher, i’d rather give readers more credit. If you really care about Palestinian opinions as much as you claim to, why don’t you go into the original data sources, which are all linked here, and read it for yourself? Then write your own post, and if it’s rational, thoughtful and accurate, we’ll publish it. but from the attitude you’ve expressed here, you’ll have to work hard to convince me you care about Palestinian people more than you care about attacking Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    11. dorn lu

      Come on Dahlia. It was the way President Obama did this that was such a change.

      The reason Israeli PM Netanyahu reacted in the way he did is manifold: President Obama decided to deliver a major hostile policy change, the day before PM Netanyahu’s visit, to embarrass him. President Obama demanded concrete Israeli concessions – a withdrawal to essentially 9 mile wide borders (at the biggest population concentration) from Israel, while not demanding any concrete actions from the Palestinian leadership.

      Worst of all, President Obama made no reference to the refugee issue. In particular, President Obama’s speech gives Palestinians the green light to pursue a state along 1967 lines, while keeping the issue of refugees as a pretext for later conflict. Mahmoud Abbas can continue to demand a “Jew-free” state on the West Bank, while calling for resettlement of Arab refugees in pre-1967 Israel, not in the West Bank. This absurd claim denies the rights of the similar number of JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB LANDS. It sidesteps Arab culpability for starting the wars that led to BOTH refugee issues.

      How long will it take to stop blaming Israel for refusing to commit suicide? If there was a reasonable chance that the Palestinians would end the conflict in exchange for land, 90% of Israelis, including PM Netanyahu would jumo at that. But it is crystal clear that nothing Israel can do will end the conflict. It would not make a difference if Israel consisted just of Tel Aviv, nor if its PM was the Dalai Lama.

      How long will it take to even hint at the numerous Palestinian actions that reject coexistence:
      (1) Seeking unilateral statehood without peace;

      (2) The pact between Fatah and Hamas;

      (3) Abbas saying he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state (which brings him quite close to the Hamas position).

      (4) The PA officially denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem;

      (5) The PA naming town squares after the worst suicide attackers;

      (6) The PA praising and encouraging Nakba day;

      (7) The PA demanding Arab refugees be resettled in pre-1967 Israel, not the West Bank.

      (8) The refusal to recognize the rights of the similar number of JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB LANDS.

      Above all, how long will it take to tell the bottom line: Arab refusal to accept a permanent Jewish state, no matter how small?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Koshiro

      I don’t have inquiries about the data. I noticed that I had overlooked the header the instant I clicked ‘submit’, but you can’t edit posts here, unfortunately, so I just added a quick correction post.

      In any case: 29% of polled Jewish Israelis answered that they would rather ‘transfer’ than go back to the 1967 lines. I do find this to be a rather troubling result because it indicates that a considerable chunk of the Jewish Israeli public is (or was in 2002) radicalized to the point where they consider ethnic cleansing to be acceptable or even preferable.

      Unfortunately, later polls apparently dropped this question. Or do you have newer poll data including it? Did support for ‘transfer’ go up? Down?

      Reply to Comment
    13. I think the surveys proves the contention that Israeli Jews seek peace at any price, except self-destruction. However, reaeding the Arab press incidates that most Arabs, including Hamas whose leaders bluntly state they want Israel’s destruction, do not want peace. During the riots in Cairo, a constant cry was kill the Jews and a reporter was injured and raped because the Rioters said she was a Jew.

      Reply to Comment
    14. References to, but not shown. Please! Where is the Green Map?

      Reply to Comment
    15. Carrie

      Would you stay your post reflects the mainstream Palestinian viewpoint?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Janna

      Whatever Saeed would say regarding what he sees as a mainstream Palestinian viewpoint, I’d suggest you look for scientifically collected evidence on the matter (and if none exists, get someone to do a survey!).

      Reply to Comment
    17. max

      Some surveys show that almost half of the Palestinians in the territories would accept Israel as a Jewish state.
      Politically, however, the situation is drastically different, as in the last election the majority elected Hamas who categorically rejects the notion of a Jewish state, no matter its borders.
      So Saeed’s view represents the current political (democratic) reality

      Reply to Comment
    18. Beatrix

      As at least one Palestinian poster said, the Arabs want negotiations to be based on the 1948 boundaries, and that’s why diplomats say to Israel, we will base negotiations on 1967, not 1948 as the Arabs wish. Stated diplomatically, it looks as though America is doing Israel a favor. Stated bluntly, as the President did, it looks as though America is making demands that are not in Israel’s best interest.

      Negotiations should be private, and diplomatic. Of course the President will make his wishes known, but he shouldn’t be directly involved. Now that negotiations are taking place in public, both sides are refusing the others narrative before they even sit down.

      Bibi, the more experienced leader, will have to heal the rift because the Arabs are taking advantage of it by insinuating that if even America can’t get along with Israel, how can they be expected to?

      Reply to Comment
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