Is Peace Possible? (2012)

A report on a comprehensive survey of attitudes among Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians in the Occupied Lands, Refugees in Lebanon, Refugees in Jordan, and Jewish Americans.

Is Peace Possible?During the month of September, 2012, we conducted an extensive survey of public opinion with over 4,200 participants among: Israeli Jews and Arabs; Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan; and the American Jewish community. The polls were conducted exclusively for the Sir Bani Yas Forum. A surface review of the results establishes the enormous challenges confronting peacemaking efforts. Wide gaps separate Israeli Jewish and Palestinian opinion making it appear that, at present, no easy agreement can be reached on issues as fundamental as: the location of borders, the disposition of Israeli settlements and settlers, the resolution of the refugee issue, and the status of Jerusalem. Nevertheless a closer look at the data suggests a possible way forward.

WHAT WE LEARN 

1. Two States: Still the Only Viable Option

A two-state solution remains the only viable option that is acceptable, albeit with differences, to both sides.

The one-state solution is rejected by all parties, including Palestinian refugees.

What is clear is that Israelis and Palestinians want separation. Israelis want security and Palestinians want independence and sovereignty. Both sides agree with the notion that security arrangements that provide guarantees for both are important. And both agree that the future Palestinian state should have control of its borders so it can freely trade with other countries.

The task left for peacemakers will be to further test the possible combinations of borders, swaps, and the role of a security barrier or other forms of security arrangements that create the right mix for all sides. 

2. Trust Is an Issue

Mutual trust has been broken.

What the polling data shows in every instance is what the Palestinians most want from Israelis, the Israelis are least willing to give, and what the Israelis most want from the Palestinians, the Palestinians are least willing to give at the present time. This, however, should not be the end of the story. These “trust issues” can be separated into behavioral matters (e.g., “renouncing violence and controlling violent elements” or “removing roadᆳblocks, the blockade of Gaza, etc.”) and existential concerns (e.g., “recognizing Israel as a Jewish state” or “acknowledging responsibility for the refugee problem”). The behavioral issues can and should be addressed first. But since the existential concerns may create hurdles too high to climb at the beginᆳning of the process, it might be advisable to put off addressing them until a later stage.

3. The Whole is More Acceptable than the Parts

Taken individually, attitudes are far apart and rigid. But when options are presented, “trade-offs” offered or issues paired, both Israelis and Palestinians display greater flexibility.

The data clearly points to the difficulty in attempting to find separate solutions to each piece of the puzzle. But the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish responses to the Arab Peace Initiative and the Israeli acceptance of some of the Clinton parameters establish that a comprehensive vision that presents not only the compromise needed for a solution, but also makes ᆳnational backing may be the only way to proceed. 

Download the poll Download the PDF

Watch the poll presentation and discussion online


Resources:

Haaretz: Peace process may be on ice, but it's still a hot-button issue

The Daily Beast: Why Arab Parties Are Excluded From Israeli Coalitions

The Jerusalem Post: 'US Jews more optimistic than Israelis about peace

Newmax: James Zogby: Israel Is Jeopardizing Peace Process With Construction