PSR - Survey Research Unit: Palestinian - Israeli Joint Press Release

 

26 September  2006

PRESS RELEASE

Joint Palestinian-Israeli Public Opinion Poll*

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE WAR IN LEBANON, PALESTINIAN SUPPORT FOR HAMAS UNCHANGED WITH GREATER PRAGMATISM AMONG ISRAELIS REGARDING NEGOTIATIONS

Table of Contents:

 

·         Main Findings

§         Impact of the War in Lebanon on the Israeli-Palestinian Arena

§         Assessment of the War in Lebanon by Israeli Jews and Arabs

§         Impact of the War on the Israeli-Syrian Arena

§         Other Conflict Resolution Issues

§         Palestinian Domestic Balance of Power

 

These are the results of the most recent poll conducted September 10-19 jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah

 

The joint poll examined Israelis’ and Palestinians’ attitudes on the conflict in the aftermath of the second war in Lebanon. It tracked both publics’ attitudes regarding the resumption of a political process and their assessments of the impact of the war on the propensity for further violence in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

 

67% of the Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government which includes Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement. Even when a Hamas-led government is concerned, we observe increased moderation among Israelis: 56% support and 43% oppose talks with a Hamas government if needed in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. In our June 2006 poll before the war, 48% supported such talks with 49% opposing it. Among Palestinians, however, we observe some hardening in this regard. Before the war, in our June poll, 70% thought that a Hamas-led PA should negotiate with Israel and 26% believed it should not; after the war, 59% support such talks while 38% oppose them.

 

As to the impact of the war on attitudes towards violence, our findings suggest that Hizballah tactics provide an attractive model for Palestinians’ armed resistance. A majority of Palestinians (63%) agree that Palestinians should emulate Hizballah’s methods by launching rockets at Israeli cities, compared to 35% who disagree. Similar levels of support for emulating Hizballah’s methods were obtained in July 2000, following Israel’s evacuation of Southern Lebanon (63% of the Palestinians supported it with 29% who opposed). However, the context of the question we asked in 2000 was quite different from the present context. The model of violence then implied mainly guerrilla war directed against the Israeli army. Regarding other modes of violence, following the war, there is no change in Palestinian support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel. 56% of the Palestinians supported it before the war in March 2006 compared to 57% who support it now. When the abduction of Israeli soldiers for exchange with Palestinian prisoners is concerned, 75% of the Palestinians support such operations compared to 23% who oppose it. Despite the militant views of the Palestinians in the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, 77% of the Palestinians support the call for a ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis and 74% believe that Palestinians can not depend on armed action only and must reach a political settlement.

 

The poll also examined the sentiments of Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel toward the war in the context of public criticism regarding Arab sympathy towards Hizballah and its military goals during the war.

 

The results show both discrepancies and agreements in Jewish and Arab respondents’ assessments of the degree of solidarity between Hizballah and the Arab citizens of Israel. While only 24% of the Israeli Jews believe that Nasrallah cares for the fate of the Arab citizens of Israel, 70% of Israel’s Arab citizens believe that he cares for their fate. Looking at it the other way around, both sectors are much more in agreement. 77% of the Israeli Jews and 68% of the Arabs believe that the Arab citizens of Israel care for the fate of Hizballah in Lebanon.

 

In a separate Israeli omnibus survey conducted August 28-30, we followed up on Israeli attitudes towards a settlement with Syria, previously studied in August 2000, following the collapse of the Syrian-Israeli talks that year. This allows us to assess whether these attitudes have changed following the war in Lebanon, which has brought back this question to the public agenda.

 

The findings indicate that Israelis’ attitudes regarding a settlement with Syria have not been affected by the war and remain remarkably similar to those held six years earlier in August 2000. In our recent survey, 56% of the Israelis oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace agreement with Syria, 32% support it, and 12% are somewhere in the middle. Six years earlier, in August 2000, 55% opposed such a settlement, 34% supported it, and 10% were in the middle. Israelis’ expectations with regard to the feasibility of such a settlement however changed drastically. While 49% of the Israelis believed in August 2000 that within five years such a settlement will take place, only 26% thought so in our recent survey.

 

Total Palestinian sample size is 1270 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 127 randomly selected locations between September 14 and 16, 2006. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli data are based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jews and a representative sample of 401 Israeli Arabs. The Israeli sample was properly weighted according to the proportion of the respective sectors in the population to produce the overall Israeli estimates (overall sampling error of 3.9%). The interviews were conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian between September 10 and 19.

 

The poll was planned and supervised by Dr. Yaacov Shamir, the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

 

For further details on the Palestinian survey contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki or Walid Ladadweh, at tel. 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org. On the Israeli survey, contact Dr. Yaacov Shamir at tel. 03-6419429 or email jshamir@mscc.huji.ac.il.

 


MAIN FINDINGS

 

(A) Impact of the War in Lebanon on the Israeli-Palestinian Arena

 

In our survey we attempted to assess by comparison to our previous survey the extent to which the war had a moderating, hardening, or rather mixed impact on Israelis’ and Palestinians’ sentiments regarding the conflict between them.

  • Both publics believe that the war strengthened Palestinian willingness to use armed resistance against Israel. 59% of the Israelis and 73% of the Palestinians think so, 12% of the Israelis and 5% of the Palestinians believe it weakened these tendencies, and 28% of the Israelis and 20% of the Palestinians think they did not change.
  • Examining this issue more directly, 63% among Palestinians agree that Palestinians should emulate Hizballah’s methods by launching rockets at Israeli cities compared to 35% who disagree. In July 2000, following Israel’s evacuation of Southern Lebanon, similar levels of support for emulating Hizballah’s methods were obtained (63% of the Palestinians supported it and 29% opposed). At that time however the question implied guerilla war against the Israeli army rather than launching rockets against Israeli cities.
  • Regarding other modes of violence, following the war, there is no change in Palestinians’ support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel. 56% of the Palestinians supported it before the war in March 2006, compared to 57% who support it now. However when the abduction of Israeli soldiers for exchange with Palestinian prisoners is concerned, 75% of the Palestinians support such operations compared to 23% who oppose it.
  • 74% of the Palestinians and 73% of the Israelis support negotiations between Israel and Abu Mazin over a final status settlement. Despite these levels of support only 44% of the Palestinians and 51% of the Israelis believe that it is possible to reach nowadays a compromise settlement between Abu Mazin and Olmert.
  • The war in Lebanon seems to have facilitated Israelis’ willingness to overcome the hurdle of a Hamas government in order to resume a political process for resolving the conflict. 67% of the Israelis support negotiations with a Palestinian national unity government which includes Hamas if needed to reach a compromise agreement.
  • Even when a Hamas-led government is concerned, we observe greater pragmatism among Israelis. 56% of the Israelis support and 43% oppose talks with it if needed in order to reach a compromise agreement with the Palestinians. In our June 2006 poll before the war, 48% supported such talks with 49% opposing it.
  • Among Palestinians, however, we observe some hardening in this regard. While in our June poll before the war 70% thought that a Hamas-led PA should negotiate with Israel and 26% believed it should not, after the war, only 59% support such talks now while 38% oppose them. This is consistent with Palestinian support (67%) for Hamas’ refusal to recognize the state of Israel in order to meet international donor demands and Palestinians’ feelings of empowerment following their perception of the results of the war. 86% of the Palestinians believe that Hizballah emerged as a winner in the Lebanon war and 2% see Israel as a winner and 11% think neither won. Among Israelis, 25% believe Hizballah, won, 12% think Israel won and 64% think neither won.

 

The joint poll further focused on lessons both publics can learn from the war pertinent to the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Three major lessons seem to have trickled down to the discourse of both publics.

  • First, that reliance on military power or armed action is futile and a political settlement must be reached.  80% of the Israelis and 74% of the Palestinians agree to that.
  • Secondly and not unrelated, both publics believe that in order to prevent in the future a war between them similar to the war in Lebanon, there is a need to reach soon a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. 65% of the Israelis agree to this. Among Palestinians 84% agree that there is a need to establish soon a Palestinian State for that purpose.
  • Thirdly, both publics seem to have become more forthcoming of the role of the international community in the conflict resolution process. 70% of the Israelis agree that Israel cannot rely only on itself and must also count on the international community. Similarly, 76% of the Palestinians agree that Palestinians need the support and understanding of the international community because they cannot depend only on themselves.

 

 

(B) Assessment of the War in Lebanon by Israeli Jews and Arabs

 

  • 33% of the Israeli Arabs and 23% of the Jews believe that Hizballah came out the winner from the war in Lebanon. 4% of the Arabs and 13% of the Jews think Israel was the winner and 59% of the Arabs and 64% of the Jews think neither one was the winner.
  • Regarding the reasons for the outbreak of the war, Israeli Jews stress the responsibility of Hizballah while Arabs emphasize Israel’s role. 46% of the Jews and 17% of the Arabs think the reason was Hizballah’s taking over of Southern Lebanon and the threat it posed to Israel, 37% of both Jews and Arabs think that the main reason was Israel’s excessive response to the abduction of the soldiers by Hizballah, 24% of the Arabs and 1% of the Jews believe that the main reason was Israel’s persistent control of the Shaba farms, 14% of the Jews and 12% of the Arabs think the main reason was Iran and Syria’s intention to hurt the US by hurting Israel.
  • 78% of the Israeli Jews and 15% of the Arabs believe that Israel should have launched a war after the abduction of the soldiers; 21% of the Jews and 84% of the Arabs think it should not have launched a war.
  • 21% of the Arabs and 13% of the Jews, believe that the war in Lebanon strengthened the identification of the Arab citizens with the state of Israel, 40% of the Arabs and 36% of the Jews, believe it weakened their identification, 36% of the Arabs and 47% of the Jews believe it did not change their identification. 52% of the Israeli Arabs and 65% of the Jews agree that many of the Arab citizens of Israel identify with Israel in private but refrain from expressing it in public due to social pressures. 45% of the Arabs and 31% of the Jews disagree.
  • 77% of the Israeli Jews and 68% of the Arabs believe that the Arab citizens of Israel care for the fate of Hizballah in Lebanon.
  • As to Nasrallah’s sentiment towards the Arab citizens of Israel, 70% of Israel’s Arab citizens believe that Nasrallah cares for their fate compared to 24% of the Israeli Jews who believe so.

 

(C) Impact of the War on the Israeli-Syrian Arena

 

In a separate Israeli omnibus survey conducted August 28-30, we followed up on Israelis’ attitudes towards a settlement with Syria, previously studied in August 2000, following the collapse of Syrian-Israeli talks that year. The results indicate that Israelis’ attitudes regarding a settlement with Syria remained remarkably similar to those held six years earlier in August 2000.

  • 40% of the Israelis will vote for and 59% will vote against in a referendum about returning the Golan Heights to Syria for full peace and proper security arrangements. In August 2000, 41% said they will vote for and 53% were against.
  • Israeli expectations with regard to the feasibility of a settlement involving the return of the Golan however changed dramatically. While 49% of the Israelis believed in August 2000 that within five years such a settlement will take place, only 26% thought so in our recent survey.

In the survey we also examined changes in Israelis’ justifications for their position on the Golan. Here Israelis seemed to draw on their recent experience from the war:

  • 66% of the Israelis reject and 33% accept the argument that holding to territory is less important to security in an era of modern weaponry. In August 2000, 54% rejected and 43% accepted this very argument.
  • 62% of the Israelis reject and 37% accept the argument that peace with Syria will restrain Hizballah in Lebanon and guarantee tranquility to the communities in the north. In August 2000, 50% rejected and 49% accepted this argument.
  • 79% of the Israelis reject and 21% accept the argument that following the death of Hafez Assad and the coming to power of Bashar, there is a window of opportunity for peace with Syria. In August 2000, 52% rejected and 43% accepted this argument.
  • 67% of the Israelis reject and 33% accept the argument that if a peace agreement with Syria is not reached now, war is bound to erupt in the future. In August 2000, the results were virtually identical: 66% rejected and 33% accepted the same argument.

 

(D) Other Conflict Resolution Issues

 

  • 67% Of the Palestinians do not believe Hamas should recognize the state of Israel in order to meet international donor demands. But 63% would support a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people after a peace agreement is reached, a Palestinians state is established, and all issues in dispute, including the refugees and Jerusalem, are settled.
  • While 57% of the Palestinians support armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel and while 57% believe that armed confrontations have helped Palestinians achieve national rights in ways that negotiations could not, 77% support the call for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians and 22% oppose it.
  • 62% Of the Palestinians have not heard of Olmert’s realignment plan to evacuate most of the West Bank settlements while realigning into large blocks of settlements along the line of the separation barrier. 70% do not welcome Olmert’s plan and only 20% believe it will be implemented. But 75% believe that the evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip was a victory for armed struggle.

 

(E) Palestinian Domestic Balance of Power

  • The Palestinian poll found that only 42% are satisfied with the overall performance of the Hamas government and 54% are dissatisfied. Despite the dissatisfaction with the performance of Hamas’ government, the percentage of those willing to vote for it in new elections remain as it was three months ago (38%) while Fateh’s popularity increases slightly to 41%.
  • Satisfaction with the performance of president Mahmud Abbas reaches 55%. But if new elections are held today, only 31% would elect him, 24% would elect Ismail Haniyeh, 13% Marwan Barghouti, 5% Mustafa Barghouti, and 3% Mahmud Zahhar.

 

 

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