June 2010: Joint Israeli Palestinian Poll finds increase in GI support

Increase in support for the Geneva Initiative in both publics compared to 2009. Among Palestinians the change is larger and is consistent across all parameters.

Following Israel’s raid on the Gaza flotilla which resulted in 9 civilian casualties and a number of wounded soldiers and civilians, 63% of the Palestinians believe they came out the winners. Most Israelis (50%) put the blame for the grave results on the organizers of the flotilla rather than on the Israeli political echelon which approved the operation (28%) or on the military echelon which carried it out (13%).
There is an increase in support for the Clinton parameters overall package in both publics compared to 2009. The change is larger and is consistent across all parameters among Palestinians. Palestinians are now split half between support and opposition to the overall package (49% support and 49% oppose it). This level of support represents an increase in support of 11 percentage points from 2009. A majority of Israelis (52%) support the overall package, versus 37% who oppose it. This level of support is similar to that obtained in 2006 through 2008 and larger than the support indicated in 2009 (46%).
Despite the increase in willingness to compromise among the two publics, neither Palestinians nor Israelis consider it likely that an independent Palestinian State will be established next to the State of Israel in the next five years. Two thirds in both publics think that chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State next to the State of Israel are non-existent or low;
The Palestinian sample size was 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between June 10 and 13, 2010. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 810 adult Israelis interviewed by phone in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between June 6 and 16, 2010. The margin of error is 3.5%.
(A) Current Events
· With regard to the Gaza flotilla incident, 63% of the Palestinians believe the Palestinians came out the winners, whereas 27% think Israel came out the winner.
· In the aftermath of the flotilla incident and while Turkish-Israeli relations worsen, Turkey emerges as the most popular regional country among Palestinians: 43% of the Palestinians believe that Turkey is the regional country most supportive of the Palestinian cause. But it is worth noting Iran was selected by only 6% and Syria by 5%. Egypt was selected by 13%, Saudi Arabia by 5%, Lebanon by 3% and Jordan by 2%.
· 50% of the Israelis attribute responsibility for the grave results of the raid on the flotilla to Gaza to the organizers of the flotilla; 28% see the political echelon which made the decision responsible, and 13% blame the military echelon which executed it.
· 46% of Israelis think the closure of Gaza benefits Israel’s national interest, whereas 36% think it hurts it; 14% think the closure does not have an effect on the national interest.
· 47% of Israelis support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to impose a 10 months freeze on construction in the settlements; 44% oppose it. These figures are similar to those obtained in our December 2009 poll shortly after the freeze was announced.
(B) Proximity talks
· If the proximity talks fail, the option endorsed by most Palestinians is to ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian State (65%). The next most popular option (60% support) is to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state. 51% support the option to start a non-violent resistance. The other options asked about received only minority support: 44% support the resumption of the armed Intifada (54% oppose it); 39% support the dissolution of the PA if the talks fail (56% oppose it), and 27% support abandoning the two-state solution and demanding instead a one-state solution (71% oppose it).
· We also asked about Israelis’ assessment as to Palestinian response to a failure of the proximity talks. Israelis correctly identify that the most preferred option to be taken by the Palestinians is to ask UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state: 65% of the Israelis think the Palestinians will take this step. However 62% of Israelis think the Palestinians will resume the Intifada, whereas only a minority of the Palestinians supports this step. These two steps are assumed by Israelis to be most preferred by Palestinians, probably because they learned that a freeze of the peace process results in violent resistance and because of their awareness of the Arab use of UN institutions to condemn Israel. Israelis misperceive the Palestinian public’s greater endorsement of non-violent resistance only 43% expect them to start a non-violent resistance, whereas 51% of the Palestinians support a non-violent resistance.
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 almost ten 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 address these issues periodically since December 2003, and in the current poll we revisited these crucial issues following the diplomatic activity of the US with regard to the conflict and the beginning of the proximity talks between the parties.
· The findings indicate an increase in support for the overall package in both publics compared to 2009. The change is larger and is consistent across all parameters among Palestinians.
· Palestinians are now split half between support and opposition to the overall package: 49% support and 49% oppose it. This level of support represents an increase in support of 11 percentage points from 2009.
· 52% of Israelis support the overall package, versus 37% who oppose it. This level of support is similar to that obtained in 2006 through 2008, and larger than the support indicated in 2009 (46%).
· 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 was majority support for the Clinton package since 2004, except in the 2009 poll.
Below we detail support and opposition to the individual items in the Clinton permanent status package.
(1) Final Borders and Territorial Exchange
Among Palestinians 60% support or strongly support and 38% 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 August 2009, when support for this compromise, with its map, stood at 49% and opposition at 50%.
Among Israelis 45% support and 44% 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 August 2009, 47% of the Israelis supported this component while 48% opposed it.
(2) Refugees
Among Palestinians, 48% support and 49% 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 August 2009, 37% agreed with an identical compromise while 61% opposed it.
Among Israelis 37% support such an arrangement and 50% oppose it. In August 2009, 36% supported it and 58% opposed.
(3) Jerusalem
In the Palestinian public 37% support and 62% 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 August 2009, an identical compromise obtained 31% support and 68% opposition.
Among Israelis, 38% agree and 56% 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 August 2009, 34% supported this arrangement and 62% opposed it.
(4) Demilitarized Palestinian State
Among Palestinians 28% support and 70% 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 August 2009, 24% support, and opposition reached 76%.
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 58% support and 35% oppose this arrangement compared to 56% support and 40% opposition obtained in August 2009.
(5) Security Arrangements
In the Palestinian public 41% support and 57% 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 August 2009, 34% of the Palestinians supported this parameter while 64% opposed it.
In the Israeli public 46% support and 42% oppose this arrangement compared to 49% who supported it and 44% who opposed it in August 2009.
(6) End of Conflict
In the Palestinian public 63% support and 35% 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. The comparable figures in August 2009 were 55% support and 44% opposition.
In the Israeli public 62% support and 30% oppose this component in the final status framework. In August 2009, 68% of the Israelis supported it while 28% opposed it.
The Whole Package
Among Palestinians 49% support and 49% oppose the whole package combining the elements as one permanent status settlement. In August 2009, 38% supported and 61% opposed such a package.
Among Israelis 52% support and 38% oppose all the above features together taken as one combined package. In August 2009, 46% supported and 46% opposed such a package.
It is important to see 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.