The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Poll: Small majority of Palestinians and Israelis support two-state solution

Ma’an News Agency, August 22, 2016

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an ) — A small majority of both Palestinians and Israelis support the two-state solution despite their differing views on the terms of a permanent settlement to peace negotiations, a survey published on Monday found.

The survey, conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), showed that 51 percent of polled Palestinians supported the two-state solution, compared to 58.5 percent of Israelis — 53 percent among Jews and 87 percent among Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.

The survey also found that two sides underestimated each other’s capacity for compromise and viewed the other’s intentions as threatening.

“Nonetheless, at least a quarter of the opposition to a permanent settlement on both sides is flexible and it is likely that its opinion might be changed with the right incentives,” the report stated.

Fewer Palestinians than Israelis supported a peace agreement based on compromise — 39 percent compared to 46 percent of surveyed Israelis.

The terms of the compromise included a demilitarized Palestinian state, an Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange, a family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees, West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and slitting sovereignty of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City between Jewish and Muslim holy sites.

In terms of the nature of peace talks, Palestinians said they preferred multilateral negotiations (44 percent) while the Israelis said they preferred the bilateral option (40 percent), in line with the views of their respective governments.

Meanwhile, a quarter of Israelis and 35 percent of Palestinians told the pollsters they supported a one-state solution.

All past efforts towards peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent contiguous state.

The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.

Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel’s ongoing settlement building and the government’s refusal to release veteran prisoners.

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements, Israeli leaders have instead shifted farther to the right as many Knesset members have called for an escalation of settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and with some having advocated for its complete annexation.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

The binational state — termed the “one-state solution” — has increasingly gained support among Palestinians, activist groups, and intellectuals purporting it as the most reasonable way of upholding Palestinian human rights and their internationally recognized right to return to lands they were expelled from during and after the establishment of Israel in 1948.

In light of recent escalations of Israeli policies such as land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said in July that Israel was risking “entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

“We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”