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Poll: Palestinian Goal—Moving from Two States to One

July 26, 2011
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That support is down eight points, however, from where it was in October 2010. In the latest poll, conducted from June 20 to July 8, just 25% say the best goal is for a two-state solution. Greenberg, speaking in a conference call on July 21 sponsored by The Israel Project, said that there’s a big rise in “undecided” in the move to the one-state question. However, when asked to choose which position they agree with more, even if neither is exactly right, two-thirds say moving to one Palestinian state.

Greenberg said that while they did not ask specifically in the poll, he leans towards thinking that the one-Palestinian-state goal is more of a general goal in their current situation. He notes it highlights the need for education of the people by Palestinian leaders, but he said that Palestinians are not interested in making such a move to one-state through violence.

Similarly, Palestinians were asked about their feelings regarding Obama’s support for two states: “Palestine” as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The poll found that 61% reject that concept, with just 34% accepting it.

Greenberg said he’d “leave it to others on how to evaluate” the one-third acceptance of that two-state approach and also said that in their last Palestinian poll—when they included a variety of conditions in a two-state solution and described them in the questioning—it was possible to see Palestinian support of two-states reach about 50%.

The data also notes that less than a quarter feel a “warm, favorable feeling” towards a two-state solution, whereas 51% feel favorable towards a one-state solution.

Greenberg, who has served as a polling adviser for former US President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said it remains to be seen if Palestinian support for two-states will increase over time, although one needs to realize where things are starting at now.

“We need to understand that the two-state solution is an ambivalent concept,” said Greenberg, who implied his personal support for a two-state solution. “There is clearly education work to be done…We just need to understand where the starting point is. Doesn’t mean you can’t get to higher support [of two-states], but the starting point poses challenges.”

He said that when asking in a more general sense without any elaboration whether Palestinians say that “I will accept” or “I will not accept” the two-state solution, support for two-states actually dropped from October 2010, from 60% to 44%. Said Greenberg, “This process that we’re watching here is not leading to a rise in support for a two-state solution; we’re actually showing a weakened support.”

At the same time—without Obama’s elaboration on two-states for two peoples—57% in the latest poll did express an initial support for the general idea of a two-state solution with Obama’s proposal that borders be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps. This would give the Palestinians basically the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Interestingly, the Palestinians polled said they did believe in negotiations with Israel—despite obvious differences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on what the parameters for a peace deal should be. The poll even showed a disconnect between the people and the Palestinian leadership, as 52% wanted negotiations instead of continuing to boycott talks.

However, one of the more sensitive matters in a peace deal is the status of Jerusalem, and at the very least, it appears that Palestinians will accept nothing less than making east Jerusalem their capital. In fact, the polling data implies that the Palestinians may even see all of Jerusalem as their capital in overwhelming numbers.

Those polled were given multiple options: making it the capital of both Israel and Palestine, just the capital of Israel, the capital of Palestine, or a neutral, international city. A whopping 92% said it should be the capital of Palestine. Based simply on the data, it was unclear if this included Jewish areas of Jerusalem.

Palestinians also said the brutal Itamar attack that murdered children and rocket attacks on Israeli cities were both wrong, but also said naming streets after suicide killers, kidnapping Israeli soldiers, and teaching songs in school that talk about hating the Jews were all considered “right.” Said Greenberg, “There clearly is a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, though the Palestinian leadership seems intent on going to the United Nations to seek statehood recognition, less than 40% of Palestinians polled think UN action will get them closer to independent statehood. However, almost two-thirds support the UN recognition approach anyway. Greenberg said the support was tactical.

“Only 12% strongly support it [going to the UN], and in the groups that we had the degree of support was only based on it being tactical. That is if it were part of a peace process, it might enhance the negotiating position,” said Greenberg. “But there’s no belief that it ought to impact things on the ground…On whether, in fact, it will help in negotiations, it’s split evenly, 41%-41%, on whether the UN would help in the negotiating process, which is one of the reasons for doing it.”

The Palestinian people have also made the UN recognition matter very low on what they believe should be President Mahmoud Abbas’ list of priorities. Just 4% said getting the UN to recognize a Palestinian state should be one of the two highest priorities for Abbas in dealing with national questions facing the Palestinians, well below creating new jobs, expanding healthcare and solving water shortages, strengthening education and more.

“So this is clearly not something people are invested in, and I don’t expect much of a reaction,” said Greenberg. He noted that Palestinians are “more focused on economic issues and building the quality of life in Palestinian areas. Particularly given the belief that violence is not a productive course right now and that peace negotiations are not a productive course, there seems to be greater interest in building Palestinian institutions and quality of life.”

Posted on July 26, 2011

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, July 26, 2011)

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