December 2007 joint Israeli-Palestinian poll: Over two thirds of all Israelis and Palestinians say they would support full reconciliation efforts in c

December 2007 joint Israeli-Palestinian poll: Over two thirds of all Israelis and Palestinians say they would support full reconciliation efforts in case of a peace agreement
Date: 25.12.07
Poll finds that despite disappointment from Annapolis, about half of all Israelis and Palestinians support a comprehensive final status agreement along the parameters of the Geneva Accord.

Following are the results of the most recent poll conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, between December 11th and 19th, 2007.

The poll finds that despite disappointment from the Annapolis Conference, about half of all Israelis and Palestinians support a comprehensive final status agreement along the parameters of the Geneva Accord, and over two thirds on both sides would support full reconciliation efforts if a peace agreement is reached.

The joint poll examined Israelis' and Palestinians’ assessments of the Annapolis conference and their expectations regarding its outcomes.

The findings indicate considerable disappointment in the Annapolis conference. There is much skepticism both among Israelis and among Palestinians regarding their leaders’ ability to implement their commitments and to stand by their declared time frame.

The poll further examined Israeli and Palestinian attitudes toward a permanent settlement along the lines of President Clinton’s package for a Palestinian-Israeli final status agreement and the Geneva Initiative, against the backdrop of the resumption of the political process by the Palestinian and Israeli governments.

The results document overall stability in Palestinian support and a decline in Israeli support for such a comprehensive package and its parameters among Israelis since 2005. Despite the declining trend among Israelis, there is still a majority of 53% who support these parameters as a combined overall package. Among Palestinians, 47% currently support the package deal.

Total Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between December 11th and 16th, 2007. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 564 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between December 11th and 19th, 2007. The margin of error is 4%. The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

MAIN FINDINGS

(A) The Annapolis Conference

• Only 16% of Israelis and 11% of Palestinians deem the Annapolis conference a success in pushing the peace process forward, while 74% and 59% respectively see it as a failure.
• Both sides’ expectations with regard to the conference's potential to temper the conflict are rather low. 3% of Israelis and 18% of Palestinians believe that in the aftermath of Annapolis, negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop; 39% of Israelis and 42% of Palestinians expect negotiations to resume but some armed attacks to continue; and 55% of Israelis and 32% of Palestinians believe that confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations.
• Both publics are also skeptical about their leaders’ ability to implement the commitments they made in the conference’s joint statement. In the statement both leaders stated that the two sides will seek to conclude the permanent status negotiations before the end of 2008. However only 23% of Palestinians and 8% of Israelis believe they will indeed succeed in achieving that in the period indicated. 72% and 89% respectively believe they will not succeed.
• In the joint statement, the two leaders also committed to immediately implement their respective obligations under the Quartet Roadmap. Nonetheless, only 18% of Palestinians and 21% of Israelis believe that the other side’s leadership will indeed implement its roadmap obligations while 79% and 77% respectively do not believe these obligations will be implemented. On the other hand 67% of Palestinians and 59% of Israelis think their own leadership will implement these obligations if the other side implements them.

(B) Clinton/Geneva Parameters

The Clinton parameters for a Palestinian-Israeli permanent settlement were presented by President Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials seven years ago, on December 23, 2000, following the collapse of the July 2000 Camp David summit. The Geneva Initiative, along similar lines, was made public around the end of 2003. These parameters address the most fundamental issues which underlie the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: (1) Final borders and territorial exchange; (2) Refugees; (3) Jerusalem; (4) A demilitarized Palestinian state; (5) Security arrangements; and (6) End of conflict. We addressed these issues several times in the past since December 2003, and in the current poll we revisited these crucial issues following the Annapolis conference and the resumption of the peace talks between the parties. The findings indicate stability in support of the overall package among Israelis compared to 2006, with a slight majority supporting the package (53%). This is a significant decline from close to two thirds support in December 2004 and December 2005. Among Palestinians there is similar stability in the level of support since December 2005, with a minority of 47% supporting the overall package. Since we have been tracking these issues in 2003, there was only once majority support for this package on both sides, in December 2004, shortly after the death of Arafat which was followed by a surge of optimism and considerable moderation in both publics. Among Israelis there is consistent majority support for the Clinton package since 2004, but this majority has been shrinking. Palestinian support for this permanent status framework package seems to have been affected more by the disengagement and the disappointment from it, than by Hamas' rise to power. Israeli support only fell following the Palestinian political turnabout, and does not seem to have been affected by the disengagement. Below we detail support and opposition to the individual items in the Clinton permanent status package.

(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange
Among Palestinians 56% support or strongly support and 42% oppose or strongly oppose an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the exception of some settlement areas in less than 3% of the West Bank that would be swapped with an equal amount of territory from Israel in accordance with a map that was presented to the Palestinian respondents. The map was identical to that presented to respondents in December 2006, when support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 61% and opposition at 37%.
Among Israelis 46% support and 50% oppose a Palestinian state in the entirety of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip except for several large blocks of settlements in 3% of the West Bank which will be annexed to Israel. Israel will evacuate all other settlements, and the Palestinians will receive in return territory of similar size along the Gaza Strip. In December 2006, 44% of the Israelis supported this component while 54% opposed it.

(2) Refugees
Among Palestinians, 39% support and 57% oppose a refugee settlement in which both sides agree that the solution will be based on UN resolutions 194 and 242. The refugees would be given five choices for permanent residency. These are: the Palestinian state and the Israeli areas transferred to the Palestinian state in the territorial exchange mentioned above; no restrictions would be imposed on refugee return to these two areas. Residency in the other three areas (in host countries, third countries, and Israel) would be subject to the decision of these states. As a base for its decision Israel will consider the average number of refugees admitted to third countries like Australia, Canada, Europe, and others. All refugees would be entitled to compensation for their “refugeehood” and loss of property. In December 2006, 41% agreed with an identical compromise while 54% opposed it.
Among Israelis 44% support such an arrangement and 52% oppose it. In December 2006 38% supported it and 60% opposed.

(3) Jerusalem
In the Palestinian public 36% support and 63% oppose a Jerusalem compromise in which East Jerusalem would become the capital of the Palestinian state with Arab neighborhoods coming under Palestinian sovereignty and Jewish neighborhoods coming under Israeli sovereignty. The Old City (including al Haram al Sharif) would come under Palestinian sovereignty with the exception of the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall that would come under Israeli sovereignty. In December 2006, an identical compromise obtained 39% support and 59% opposition.
Among Israelis, 36% agree and 63% disagree to this arrangement in which the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem including the old city and the Temple Mount will come under Palestinian sovereignty, the Jewish neighborhoods including the Jewish quarter and the Wailing Wall will come under Israeli sovereignty, East Jerusalem will become the capital of the Palestinian state and West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. In December 2006, 38% supported this arrangement and 60% opposed it.

(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
Among Palestinians 23% support and 76% oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would have no army, but would have a strong security force and would have a multinational force deployed in it to ensure its security and safety. Israel and Palestine would be committed to end all forms of violence directed against each other. A similar compromise received in December 2006 28% support, and opposition reached 70%.
This item receives the lowest level of support by Palestinians. Unlike the refugees and Jerusalem components, this issue has not received due attention in public discourse, as it should, since it may become a major stumbling block in the efforts to reach a settlement.
Among Israelis 61% support and 38% oppose this arrangement compared to similar levels of 62% support and 36% opposition obtained in December 2006.

(5) Security Arrangements
In the Palestinian public 51% support and 47% oppose a compromise whereby the Palestinian state would have sovereignty over its land, water, and airspace, but Israel would have the right to use the Palestinian airspace for training purposes, and would maintain two early warning stations in the West Bank for 15 years. A multinational force would remain in the Palestinian state and in its border crossings for an indefinite period of time. The task of the multinational force would be to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and to monitor territorial borders and coast of the Palestinian state including the presence at its international crossings. In December 2006, 42% of the Palestinians supported this parameter while 55% opposed it.
In the Israeli public 53% support and 44% oppose this arrangement compared to 51% who supported it and 47% who opposed it in December 2006.

(6) End of Conflict
In the Palestinian public 66% support and 32% oppose a compromise on ending the conflict that would state that when the permanent status agreement is fully implemented, it will mean the end of the conflict and no further claims will be made by either side. The parties will recognize Palestine and Israel as the homelands of their respective peoples. An identical question received in December 2006 the support of 62% and the opposition of 34%.
In the Israeli public 67% support and 30% oppose this component in the final status framework. In December 2006, 68% of the Israelis supported it while 30% opposed it.

The Whole Package
Among Palestinians 47% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. This level of support is similar to that obtained in December 2006, when 48% supported and 49% opposed such a package.
This stability in the level of support for the package among Palestinians deserves attention given the official and publicly endorsed Hamas position toward a permanent peace agreement with Israel. In this regard it is also important to stress the four percentage point increase in the “end of conflict” component which stands in open contradiction to Hamas refusal to such a clause and its willingness to grant Israel only a long-range Hudna.
Among Israelis 53% support and 43% oppose all the above features together taken as one combined package. In December 2006, 52% supported and 46% opposed such a package.

It is important to note that the pattern of support for the overall package is more than the sum of its parts, suggesting that people’s calculus is compensatory and trade-offs are considered. Despite strong reservations regarding some of the components, the overall package always receives greater support in both publics, where the desirable components and the chance of reaching a permanent status agreement seem to compensate for the undesirable parts.

37% of the Israelis estimate that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package. 51% believe that the majority opposes it. These perceptions tap the normative facet of public opinion and indicate that despite the consistent support in the package over time, it has not acquired widespread normative legitimacy in the Israeli public. Among Palestinians 45% believe now that a majority in their society supports the Clinton parameters as a combined final status package and 46% believe that the majority opposes it. In addition a majority among Palestinians incorrectly assumes that the majority of Israelis opposes the package while Israelis accurately estimate that a Palestinian majority opposes the parameters.

(C) Other Conflict and Conflict Resolution Issues

• 66% of Israelis support negotiations between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas over a final status settlement. Despite these levels of support only 41% of Israelis believe that it is possible and 57% think it is impossible to currently reach a compromise settlement between Abbas and Olmert. Among Palestinians, 32% believe that it is possible and 63% think it is impossible these days to reach a permanent status agreement with Olmert's government.

 

• 58% of Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government which includes Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement.

 

• Even when a Hamas-led government is concerned, 46% of Israelis support and 52% oppose talks with it if needed in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians.

 

• 65% of Israelis and 49% of Palestinians agree with the proposal that after reaching a permanent agreement to all issues of the conflict, there would be mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. 32% and 49% respectively disagree to this step. This is the first time since June 2003 that this step fails to obtain majority support among Palestinians. Presumably this is a reaction to the Palestinian leaders’ public statements against the recognition of Israel’s Jewish identity which came in response to Israel’s attempts to raise this issue as a precondition to the resumption of the peace talks. 43% of the Palestinians and 52% of the Israelis believe that a majority of their domestic public supports such a proposal, and 48% and 34% respectively think the majority opposes it.

 

• 52% of Israelis estimate that a Palestinian majority opposes this step, and 35% believe that a majority supports it. Among Palestinians, 48% incorrectly believe that the Israeli majority opposes this step, and 40% think the majority supports it.

 

• 69% of Palestinians and 74% of Israelis say they would support the efforts to reach full reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinian state if a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel.

 

• If the shelling of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip continues, 30% of the Israelis think Israel should reoccupy the Gaza Strip and stay there, 40% think Israel should carry out ad-hoc operations against the shelling and get out, and 25% believe Israel should use primarily diplomatic rather than military steps.