A broad majority of the Israeli public would vote in favor of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, if the government brought a plan that offered security guarantees to a referendum, polls published Sunday by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace found.
Roughly two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) expressed support for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps; a demilitarized Palestine; and Jerusalem’s Old City administered jointly by the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, with Israel maintaining control of the Western Wall.
The S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, a non-profit advocacy group based in Washington DC, approached two Israeli research companies, the Dahaf Institute and Smith Consulting, requesting that they survey Israeli opinions regarding a future peace agreement with the Palestinians. Each poll was conducted independently.
The Dahaf poll was conducted via telephone interviews during the first third of December. It is the third in a series of similar polls conducted in January 2010 and 2011. The findings were based on the responses of 500 people, a representative sample of Israel’s adult population.
The Smith Consulting poll was carried out on December 11 and 12 among 600 people, with a 4% margin of error.
In both polls, respondents were asked how they would vote if the government brought to a referendum a peace agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the following provisions: Its implementation would take place only after the Palestinians would fulfill all their commitments with an emphasis on fighting terror, and the implementation would be monitored and verified by the United States.
The principles of the hypothetical agreement included:
- Two states: Israel the state of the Jewish people and Palestine the state of the Palestinian people.
- Palestinian refugees will have a right to return only to the new state of Palestine.
- The Palestinian state will be demilitarized, without an army.
- Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem will come under Israeli sovereignty and Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian sovereignty.
- The Old City within the walls will be without sovereignty and will be jointly administered by the United States, Israel, and
the Palestinians. The Holy Places will be under the same religious supervision as current arrangements (for example,
the Western Wall will be under Israeli supervision and responsibility).
- Borders will be based on the 1967 lines and will include land swaps equal in size that will take into consideration Israel’s
security needs and will maintain the large settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty.
According to the Dahaf poll, 67% of respondents would vote in favor of such an agreement, 21% would oppose it and 12% did not answer. The Smith poll found that 68% would support the agreement (of them 40% would strongly support it), 25% would oppose it (17% strongly oppose it) and 7% had no opinion.
The Dahaf poll presented stable support for an agreement over the three years in which its polls were conducted: 67%.
The Smith poll broke the numbers down according to a wide range of variables showing that females were slightly more supportive of an agreement than males (70% compared to 67%) and that support for the proposal increased with age and education levels and dropped in line with increased self-declared religiosity level. Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union were the only demographic where more people opposed the proposed agreement (53%) than supported it (44%).
The Dahaf poll also asked respondents whom they planned to vote for in the upcoming elections, and tabulated the level of support for the proposed peace agreement according to party affiliation. The findings showed that Labor and Hatnua voters are most likely to support the proposal (92%), followed closely by Yesh Atid voters (88%) and Meretz (77%). Leading in terms of the percentage of opponents, among the large parties, are Jewish Home (43%), followed by Shas (41%), United Torah Judaism (29%) and Likud-Beytenu (25%).
Still, even on the right, there appears to be a majority in favor of a peace deal, including 57% among Likud voters, and even 53% among the constituency of Yesh Atid, whose leader, Naftali Bennett, is a champion of the unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Both polls indicate that there is stronger support for a peace agreement among the Arab population than among the general population.
The public’s support of a peace agreement surged when the plan was upgraded to include certain “perks”, such as a defense alliance with the US, a demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza, the construction of a strong security fence along the border, and a pan-Arab readiness to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. Both polls found that in those cases, over 75% of Israelis would be highly supportive of an agreement with the Palestinians.