Israelis and Palestinians are more skeptical now of the prospects of striking a final peace agreement than in previous years, a study has found.
According to a joint poll commissioned by Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Police and Survey Research, the long-term impact of the summer war between Israel and Gazan terrorists has been an increase in pessimism on both sides and an increase in mutual suspicion.
Overall, however, Israelis still appear more supportive of a compromise solution than Palestinians.
Following Operation Protective Edge, 50% of Israelis and 38% of Palestinians support a permanent settlement package along the Clinton parameters and the Geneva Initiative, according to the poll. That contrasts negatively with attitudes in 2013, when a similar poll found support at 54% and 46% respectively.
The 2003 Geneva Initiative calls for a final settlement based on a “two-state solution” which would see Israel withdraw from the vast majority of Judea and Samaria and expel all Jews living there, with the exception of minor land-swaps. It also calls for an acceptance of the so-called Clinton Parameters, which would see Jerusalem divided and an agreement on the Palestinian Arab refugee issue which would include a compensation package and the settlement of the descendants of Arab refugees largely within the borders of a future “Palestinian state.” No mention is made of the roughly one million Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Regarding the possibility of a return to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which broke down earlier this year amid mutual recriminations, respondents were even more skeptical.
In light of the recent Gaza war and the increasing tensions in Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria, 47% of Israelis and 36% of Palestinians think that the two sides will not return to negotiations.
39% of the Israelis and 26% of the Palestinians who responded think that the two sides will not return to negotiations and some “armed attacks” will take place, whereas just 8% of the Israelis and 10% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no “armed attacks.”
By contrast, immediately prior to the 50-day conflict, in June 2014 only 28% of Israelis and 16% of Palestinians thought that the two sides would not return to negotiations and that some “armed attacks” would take place, while 7% of Israelis and 13% of Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no “armed attacks.”
Of course, plenty of “armed attacks” by Palestinian terrorists have already taken place since the breakdown of negotiations and since the August ceasefire which ended Operation Protective Edge. Terrorists have primarily targeted Israeli civilians in a campaign of random attacks, mainly in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, which have claimed the lives of a significant number of Israelis and injured scores more.
One aspect of the survey which was largely consistent with previous studies was how people on both sides perceive each other.
58% of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals in the long run are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, while 24% think the goals are to annex Judea and Samaria while denying political rights to the Palestinian Arabs living there.
37% of the Israelis think that the Palestinian aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and massacre much of the Jewish population in Israel; while 18% think the goals of the Palestinians are to conquer the State of Israel without destroying its Jewish population. Among Jewish Israelis specifically those numbers are even higher: 42% and 21% respectively.
The results come as the Palestinian Authority pushes for a UN Security Council resolution forcing a final settlement with Israel by 2017 which would require an Israeli withdrawal from all of Judea-Samaria.