New Poll finds: Two-State Solution is the Preferred Option for Majority of Israelis and Palestinians.

This poll was commissioned by OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine in collaboration with Dr. Colin Irwin of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. The fieldwork for the public opinion polls was undertaken by Dr. Nader Said (AWRAD, of Ramallah) and Dr. Mina Zemach (Dahaf, of Tel Aviv) following the elections in Israel in February 2009.

Five hundred interviews were completed in Israel and six hundred in the West Bank and Gaza to produce representative samples of both populations in terms of age, gender, social background and geographical distribution. Publication of the results of the polls has been timed to provide the new administration in the US and new government in Israel with information to assist them in developing their policies for peace in the Middle East.


Main Findings: Areas of Consensus

Two State Solution remains the only acceptable resolution for vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians: Despite reports that support for a two state solution is waning, 78% of Israelis and 74% of Palestinians are willing to accept a two state solution. Majorities on both sides support a negotiated peace: 71% of Palestinians and 77% of Israelis feel negotiations are “Essential” or “Desirable”. 78% of Palestinians and 74% of Israelis feel that that a peace agreement which leads to both states living side by side as good neighbors to be “essential or desirable.” Wide support for a civic engagement on peace agreement: 96% of Palestinians and 58% of Israelis deem a referendum “essential” or “desirable”. 74% of Palestinians and 58% of Israelis feel that it is “essential” or “desirable” that civil society get more involved in the peace process, and 94% of Palestinians and 74% of Israelis find it “essential” or “desirable” that the people be kept informed on progress in negotiations. Mutual recognition of core priorities: While there remains a “recognition gap” between Israelis and Palestinians in terms of recognizing the importance of the specific fears and priorities of the other side, 86% of Palestinians and 66% of Israelis feel it is “essential” or “desirable” that negotiators recognize the just aspirations of the other side. Security for Israelis & Palestinians: 72% of Israelis will accept a strong Palestinian police force, and only 36% of Israelis consider it “Essential” or “Desirable” for IDF to remain in West Bank. 50% of Palestinians find a cessation of rocket attacks “essential” or “desirable,” and 52% of Palestinians think that a cessation of all attacks against civilians is “essential” or “desirable.” Support for Palestinian political unity: 98% of Palestinians believe it is “Essential” or “Desirable” for Fatah and Hamas to reconcile differences before negotiations. 80% of Palestinians and 58% of Israelis feel it is “essential” or “desirable” to have the US, EU, and Egypt involved in this process. Strong consensus for US role in peace process: 91% of Palestinians and 59% of Israelis deem American role “Essential” or “Desirable”. Allocation of natural resources: 74% of Palestinians and 69% of Israelis accept a division of water between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Obstacles to an End to Conflict Little Public Consensus, but Room for Negotiation on Final Status Issues: Israelis and Palestinians do not enjoy wide consensus on settlements, status of Jerusalem, borders, and refugees. However, these issues are considered “borderline” in terms of room for compromise. Appreciation Gap: When polled, Israelis and Palestinians identified different obstacles plaguing the peace process. The ranked lists were mirror images of each other, with the highest ranking grievances of one ranking the lowest on the other side. Palestinians rank freedom from occupation, settlements, and substandard living conditions in Gaza as the three greatest problems in the peace process while Israelis rank terror, maintaining a Jewish majority in Israel, and incitement to hatred as most significant. Blame Game: Neither Israeli nor Palestinian respondents acknowledged their own personal or national responsibility as one of top five points of failure to make peace; both pointed to the other or outside elements as responsible for failure.


Building a Process towards an End to Conflict

Both sides agree that rebuilding confidence in the process is important. Both Palestinians and Israelis favor:
 Role of US Administration in Middle East peace process
 Ending the conflict between Hamas and Fatah
 Engaging civil society in the peace process
 Achieving peace through negotiation
Palestinians call for:
 Lifting siege of Gaza
 Removing all check points
 Releasing Palestinian political prisoners
 Freezing settlements
Israelis call for:
 Stopping all suicide attacks against civilians
 Ceasing rocket fire from Gaza
 Releasing Gilad Shalit
 Palestinians and Israelis to explain themselves to each other
Both sides widely agree on top priorities for negotiations. Both Palestinians and Israelis think that:
 People should be kept informed about the peace process
 Fatah and Hamas should reconcile their differences before negotiations
 Targets, timetables, and milestones should be set for negotiations
 Negotiators should recognize each others just aspirations
 Addressing root causes of conflict between Israelis & Palestinians is integral to the negotiations.

Conclusion

At the macro level, the two state solution remains the only proposed solution that is acceptable to majorities on both sides. Furthermore, a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians desire a negotiated peace. An analysis of the substantive issues covered the poll suggests that the shape of an agreement for a two state solution may not be very different to the various solutions proposed in the past – though there remains work to be done in building consensus on the toughest of the issues, including settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem. The second portion of the poll, dealing with procedural issues, suggests that the peace process itself is in much need of reform. On this point there appears to be sufficient grounds upon which to establish an Israeli/Palestinian consensus for new negotiations that are not subject to the failings of the past: majorities on both sides desire greater US and EU involvement, as well as increased civil society engagement in the peace process.