WASHINGTON – A new poll finds that 85% of the Arab world would agree to a two-state solution with Israel and a plurality endorse a negotiated solution, though most doubt that such an outcome will happen.RELATED:
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Though 85% of those surveyed in six Arab countries said they were willing to support peace for a two-state solution in which Israel returned to the 1967 lines, including in Jerusalem, though 55% thought Israel would not agree to give up the necessary territory, according to poll conducted by the Saban Center at Brookings’s Shibley Telhami. Only 14% said Arabs should continue to fight even if Israel returned to the 1967 borders.
In terms of creating such a state, 39% said it would be achieved through serious negotiations, with smaller numbers answering the US or UN would have to impose a solution and 16% saying through force. Of the issues most important to resolve, the majority (54%) gave the creation of a fully contiguous state in the West Bank and Gaza, with 31% choosing Arab sovereignty over East Jerusalem and 21% choosing resolving the refugee issue.
In another question, 54% of those polled said they didn’t believe there would ever be peace between Israelis and Palestinians, though 40% said it was possible if given more than five years to accomplish.
“Clearly the majority of the Arab public is prepared to accept in principle” a two-state solution, according to Telhami, who said the numbers are at peak levels.
He found even larger shifts of opinion on attitudes towards the United States and Iran. While in 2009 45% held favorable views of Obama, this summer that number was down to 20%, while those with negative views group from 23% to 62%. The numbers were almost exactly the same when it came to how hopeful they felt about Obama’s policy on the Middle East.
“There is no question in my mind that the bulk of the shift in attitudes toward the Obama administration … is due to disappointment on this central issue,” Telhami said, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which was the issue pointed to most by those polled. “This is the prism through which the Arabs view the US.”
At the same time, attitudes towards Iran had shifted as well. Though more of the Arab world than ever before (57%) believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, 77% said Tehran had the right to pursue a nuclear program with only 20% saying it should be pressured to stop, in contrast to a split of 53-40 last year.
“This is highly correlated to how they feel about the United States,” Telhami assessed of various attitudes discerned in the poll toward Iran. “It’s mostly a reaction, a venting, an expression of anger [over] American foreign policy.
The poll is conducted annually across six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Overall 3,976 people were interviewed and the averaged margin of error was +/- 1.6%. The surveys were conducted between June 29 and July 20.