Palestinians show growing support for two-state solution, poll finds

(JTA) – A small and nearly equal majority of Israelis and Palestinians back a two-state solution, a new poll shows, but the Palestinians’ support is rising.

Support among Israelis is at 53 per cent, a decline of two percentage points since December, and at 52 per cent among Palestinians both in the West Bank and Gaza, an increase of eight points, according to the Palestinian-Israeli Pulse: A Joint Poll published Monday.

Tel Aviv University’s Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah conducted the survey with funding from the European Union and the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah.

The poll was conducted in June and early July among representative samples of 1,200 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and 900 Israelis, with an additional sample of Jewish settlers and Arab citizens. The margin of error is plus or minus three per cent for both.

The survey tested the details of a permanent peace agreement, with incentives for those who are opposed; perceptions of the other; and alternate scenarios to the two-state solution, including both equal and unequal versions of one state, and a confederation of two states.

When presented with a peace agreement package based on previous rounds of negotiations – including a demilitarized Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal to pre-June 1967 lines with land swaps; family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees; West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, with the Old City divided among the two sides; and the end of the conflict and claims – overall Israeli support declined to 41 per cent from 46 per cent in December, with backing among Jewish Israelis falling to 32 per cent from 41 per cent. Palestinian support rose four percent to 43 per cent, with much of the rise coming from Gazans.

Incentives offered to those who opposed the peace agreement package caused the total support to rise on both sides. Among the incentives offered was the release of all Palestinian prisoners, which caused Palestinian support to rise to 73 per cent; Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which spurred support among Jewish Israelis to rise to 58 per cent; and changing educational textbooks on both sides to remove incitement, raising support by one-third on both sides.

Some 57.5 per cent of all Palestinians and 58.3 per cent of all Israelis opposed the idea of a confederation of a Palestinian state and the State of Israel in which citizens of each country could live on the territory of the other under their laws with security and the economy handled jointly by both countries.

A majority of Palestinians, 52.3 per cent, believe a two-state solution is no longer viable, and 43.9 per cent of Israelis agree. In a separate question, 58 per cent of Palestinians and 61. 4 per cent of Israelis opposed one state for Palestinians and Israelis.

Some 47.2 per cent of Israelis support or strongly support the evacuation of Jewish settlements under a peace agreement, with 44.8 per cent opposing or strongly opposing such a move.

In a question on the perception of others, 39.6 per cent of Palestinians said they agree or certainly agree with the statement “I feel fear toward Israeli Jews,” and 67.5 per cent of Jewish Israelis agreed or certainly agreed with the statement “I feel fear toward Palestinians.” Some 53.3 per cent of Palestinians said they disagree or certainly disagree with the statement “Most Israelis want peace,” and 62.2 per cent of Israelis said they disagreed or certainly disagree with the statement “Most Palestinians want peace.”

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