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Amid reports that US President Donald Trump’s “ultimate deal” Middle East peace plan will be postponed until after midterm elections in the US and the next Israeli general election, a new poll found Jewish Israelis extremely pessimistic about chances for peace in the new Jewish year of 5779, which begins Sunday night.
According to the monthly Peace Index poll of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, 89% of Israeli Jews see “the chances that in the year soon to begin there will be a positive breakthrough in Israel’s relations with the Palestinians” as low. The Arab public, too, shares this pessimistic perception but less so, with 71% responding that the chances of such a breakthrough are slim.
The Peace Index has asked Israelis whether they support the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict monthly since 1999. That support has rarely dipped below the 50% mark, usually during or in the aftermath of a war.
But when asked: “Do you support or not support at present the signing of a peace agreement based on the formula of two states for two peoples?” – only 47% of Israeli Jews said yes and 46% said no. Among Israelis defining themselves as right-wing, just 25% favored the two-state solution, which was backed by 70% of centrists and 91.5% of self-defined leftists.
The poll found that the younger people are, the less likely they are to back a two-state solution, which was backed by 64% of those 55 and older, 47% of respondents aged 35-54, and only 32% by the 18-34 age group.
The Peace Index presented respondents with a scenario in which the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership had almost achieved the formulation of a permanent peace agreement. Respondents were asked whether they would agree to a series of key steps, in order to prove to the Palestinians and to the world that the Israeli government truly wants peace.
A majority of Israeli Jews opposed all the conditions that the Israeli government would presumably have to accept in order to reach an agreement, and a majority of Israeli Arabs supported all of them.
The greatest opposition among Israeli Jews was to releasing Palestinian prisoners (81%), followed by Israeli recognition of the catastrophe caused to the Palestinians (77%), declaring east Jerusalem the capital of Palestine (75%) and an open border between the two states and evacuation of the isolated settlements (71%). The lowest rate of opposition (57%) was recorded for the absorption of refugees within the Palestinian state.
WITH THE controversial Jewish Nation-State Law in the news, the Peace Index asked if “the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people before peace talks with them can be revived.” A wide consensus (83%) of the Jewish public said yes, including 91% of right-wingers, 82% of centrists, and 59% of leftists. A majority of Arabs (72%) opposed the demand.
Two thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that “most of the Palestinians have not come to terms with Isra - el’s existence and would destroy it if they could.” This rate has remained more or less con - stant since the first Peace Index survey was conducted in June 1994. On this question, Israelis were divided by their political camps, with 84% of those on the Right considering this the Palestinians’ intention, 53% of centrists and only 20.5% of left - ists.
A majority (57%) of the Jewish public favors the current negoti - ations with Hamas attempting to achieve calm from the Gaza Strip. But over three-quarters of the Jewish public (78%) replied that Israel could not forgo the return of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul’s bodies even in return for quiet in the South. On this issue, there was agree - ment across the three political camps, including 82% of those on the Right 82%, 75% of cen - trists and 66% of leftists.
Close to two-thirds of the Jew - ish public (64%) said that from Israel’s standpoint, the year that is soon ending was moderately good or very good. On the Right and in the Center, a majority think so (71% and 65.5%). On the Left, 48% answered affir - matively. Half of the Arabs also think the year was a good one.
The poll was conducted August 28-29 by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for the entire sample is ±4.1%.
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