PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll # 1 - Joint Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS SUPPORT THE PEACE PROCESS AND RECONCILIATION BUT ARE LESS WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE THAN THEIR LEADERS.

Table of Contents

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, have conducted a joint survey of Palestinian and Israeli public opinion.

The poll sought to examine the views of the two peoples in the wake of the failed summit at Camp David. The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, professor of communication at the Hebrew University and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, professor of political science and director of PSR. The two surveys included identical questions. A representative sample of 1259 Palestinian in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem was interviewed face-to-face with a sampling error of 3%. A representative sample of 525 Israelis was interviewed by telephone (sampling error of 4.5%). The interviews were conducted between July 27-31.

PSR and the Truman Institute hope that this joint poll will be a first stage in an ongoing research into the opinions of the two publics during the coming years.

The following summary highlights the findings of the joint poll. For further details on the Palestinian survey, please contact Dr. Khalil Shikaki at tel 02-2964933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org, and on the Israeli survey, please contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email jshamir@huji.ac.il.


Summary of Results

The overall picture emerging from the surveys on the Camp David summit is that both publics are less willing than their leaders to pay the price of peace, although they expect a compromise agreement to be reached and support reconciliation between the two people.

1. Views on positions expressed and concessions made at Camp David

A majority of both publics is critical of the positions presented at Camp David by their leader.

While the majority of Palestinians (68%) believe that Arafat's overall position at the summit was "just right", most Palestinians view Arafat's issue-specific positions as reported in the media as "too much of a compromise".

The Israeli public is even less supportive of Barak's overall position. Fifty seven percent believe that overall Israeli position was too much of a compromise, 25% think that the Israeli position was just right, and 13% think that Israel could compromise even more.

The position most strongly opposed by Israelis is that with regard to the refugees. Sixty four percent think that Barak made too much of a compromise by willing to have several thousands of refugees return to Israel every year over the coming years, even without taking moral or legal responsibility for the refugee problem. On the other hand Arafat's position on this issue that Israel recognize resolution 194 and show willingness to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees is supported by 68% of the Palestinians, while only 20% regard this position as too much of a compromise.

The highest level of support expressed by the Israeli public concerns the security arrangements. Forty six percent think that Barak's position on this issue is just right, and an additional 13% believe that Israel could even compromise more. Among the Palestinians on the other hand 68% found "too much of a compromise" in the reported security arrangements, and only 25% found this position to be "just right" or "not enough of a compromise".

On the issue of Jerusalem, a similar majority of 57% in both samples thought that the positions presented by their leaders at the summit on which reportedly the talks broke down were still "too much of a compromise". Forty one percent of the Israelis and 36% of the Palestinians found their delegations' positions to be "just right" or "not enough of a compromise".

Similarly on the issue of the Palestinian state and borders 56% of the Israelis and 51% of the Palestinians thought their leaders' positions were "too much of a compromise. On the settlements issue, 52% of Israelis and 55% of Palestinians considered their delegation's positions as too compromising.

2. What is next?

Despite these critical attitudes towards their leaders' positions in the negotiations, a considerable majority of both publics (79% of Israelis and 75% of Palestinians) believes that in the long run an agreement will be reached and that the breakdown of the talks does not signal the end of negotiations. Only 19% of Israelis and 23% of Palestinians believe that the failure in Camp David is the end of the peace process and there is no chance to reach an agreement in the years to come.

If however no agreement is reached in the coming months and violent confrontations erupt in the West Bank and Gaza, a majority of the Israelis (54% and 58% ) do not believe that either side will achieve greater political gains than in negotiations. On the other hand, a majority of the Palestinians (57%) do believe that such confrontations will help them achieve greater gains, and only a third believe that Israel will gain from such developments. In accordance with such expectations around 60% of the Palestinians support violent confrontations and the emulation of Hizbullah methods if no agreement is reached in the coming months.

While 56% of the Palestinians support a unilateral state declaration in September, only 31% of Israelis believe that this will happen if no agreement is reached by then. In case a Palestinian state is declared unilaterally 27% of Israelis support harsh retaliatory measures (re-occupation or annexation of territories), another 20 percent support an Israeli blockade coupled with international pressure, and 39% support continued negotiations with the Palestinians. Palestinians overestimate Israeli willingness to retaliate harshly.

 3. Chances for reconciliation and lasting peace

If an agreement is reached and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel, Israelis (72%) and Palestinians (75%) overwhelmingly support reconciliation efforts between Israel and the Palestinian state, but both publics think it may take many years and perhaps generations, if at all. Israelis correctly perceive that reconciliation may be harder for the Palestinians, who are indeed more skeptical about its prospects. Most Israelis (58%) but only a third of the Palestinians think that a lasting peace is possible. Furthermore, two thirds of the Palestinians think that a majority of Israelis believe that a lasting peace is impossible, and 55% of the Israelis think the same about Palestinians.

Given a state of peace between Israel and a Palestinian state, Israelis and Palestinians vary with respect to their support for various steps toward normalization. While Palestinians mainly support open borders and economic cooperation, Israelis see more favorably than Palestinians cultural changes in education and public discourse and social interaction.

 

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