December 2010 International Peace Institute...

December 2010 International Peace Institute Poll

New polls made public at the International Peace Institute in New York by the pollster Craig Charney, President of Charney Research and IPI Senior Adviser, reveal surprising optimism among Palestinians and a pensive Israel.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
 
The share of residents of the Palestinian Territories who are optimistic about trends there, 47 percent, has doubled since a 2009 IPI poll and outnumbered the pessimists for the first time in any poll of Palestinians. The gains were heavily concentrated in the West Bank, where big improvements in the economy and personal security were reported by the poll.
 
These results yielded political gains for Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, who were both viewed favorably by two-thirds in the poll. (Their scores were similar in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since a 2007 coup.) The poll also found that Abbas’ Fatah movement remains the most popular party among Palestinians, with 35 percent of voting intentions, while Fayyad’s smaller Third Way almost tripled its support in the past year to reach 8 percent.
 
In Israel, the poll found a paradox: though the majority described both economic and security conditions as good, more than half also said the country was headed in the wrong direction.
 
“We discovered the reason when we did focus groups in Israel,” Dr. Charney said. “There is a sense that this situation can’t last, that it’s ‘only temporary,’ as one of our Jerusalem group members put it.”
 
Although the poll found that only two-fifths of Israelis approved of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s job performance, it also showed that his right-wing coalition would easily win new elections with an increased majority. His share of voting intentions has jumped since the Gaza Flotilla incident in late May, in which Israel’s seizure of the ships left nine dead and sparked international condemnation but improved Netanyahu’s standing at home.
 
The poll also found that the Israeli and Palestinian publics both support the notion of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in principle. However, their views differ sharply on the Arab Peace Initiative, the Arab League-endorsed peace plan: Palestinians back it, Israelis do not.