Two-State Solution Still Preferred by Israelis and PA Arabs, Poll Shows

A rioter throws a stone at an Israeli border guard during clashes between hundreds of youths and Israeli security at the security fence in the village of Bilin near Ramallah. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Most Israelis, as well as a large minority of Palestinian Authority Arabs, are in favor of setting up an Arab state in areas of Yehudah and Shomron – the “two-state solution,” as it is known –  a poll released by the Palestinian-Israeli Pulse research group shows. Among Israelis, 55 percent said they preferred the two-state solution over others, a sentiment shared by 44 percent of PA Arabs. But more than a third of Palestinians – 36 percent – said they favored a single state, compared to 19 percent of Israeli Jews. Among Israeli Arabs, a clear majority – 56 percent – said they preferred an Israeli annexation of Yehudah and Shomron.

The poll was conducted among Israeli Jews and Arabs, as well as among PA Arabs, by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC), Tel Aviv University
and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah, based on a scientifically-derived population representative sampling weighted for religious, ethnic and political views and backgrounds.

Various ideas of what a settlement between Israelis and Palestinians would look like have been bandied about through the years, and the main elements of such a settlement – including a demilitarized Palestinian state; Israeli surrender of land liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War with territorial exchanges for the settlement blocs in Yehudah and Shomron; West Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel and the eastern side of the city as the capital of Palestine; the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty and the rest of the Old City (including Har HaBayis) under Palestinian sovereignty; and the end of the conflict and claims – are supported by only 41 percent of Israelis and 42 percent of PA Arabs.

Again, Israeli Arabs saw these conditions as ideal for a settlement, with 88 percent in favor. However, of those opposed, between a quarter and a third of Israelis and PA Arabs said they would be willing to support a deal if it was part of an overall framework for a regional peace deal that included neighboring Arab Sunni countries, including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Also up for debate is the best way to achieve a deal. Most PA Arabs (51 percent) saw international forums, such as the Quartet, as the best way to cement an agreement, while a clear majority of Israelis (61 percent) saw bilateral negotiations without international interference as the best vehicle for achieving peace. Among those preferring a multilateral approach, the majority of Israelis preferred an effort led by the United States, and opposed one led by the European Union or the United Nations, while for PA Arabs the sentiments were reversed.

Two-thirds of Israelis and more than three-quarters of Arabs see President Donald Trump as pro-Israel, but only 28 percent of Israeli Jews and 10 percent of PA Arabs believe he will seek to renew peace negotiations. Few on either side believe an independent Palestinian state will be established in the next five years.