'E. J'lem Arabs would prefer Israel over Palestinian state'

According to recent poll of over 1,000 Arabs residents, only a quarter said would probably move to "Palestine"; 54% said they would stay in Israel.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
January 13, 2011 06:03
2 minute read.
Arab women at Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem

Arab women at Ministry of Interior in Jerusalem 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

 
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In the case of a final peace agreement that established a Palestinian state, more Arab residents of east Jerusalem would prefer to be Israeli than Palestinian, according to a study released Wednesday by Pechter Middle East Polls.

The poll surveyed over 1,000 Arab residents of east Jerusalem, focusing on questions about quality of life and personal identity choices in the case of a two-state peace agreement.

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According to the poll, if their neighborhood became part of Israel, only a quarter of residents said would probably move to “Palestine,” whereas 54 percent said they would probably want to stay in Israel. If a neighborhood became part of Palestine, 40% said they would probably try to move to Israel, while 37% would probably stay in Palestine.

The reasons that many east Jerusalem residents want to stay Israeli are economic: access to better jobs, smaller classes for their children, and better healthcare, according to the poll.

The 270,000 Arab residents of east Jerusalem have Israeli (blue) identity cards and can vote in local elections, and are eligible for the same services as Israelis, including health care, education, unemployment and pensions.


Many of Jerusalem’s Arabs are middle-class compared to their counterparts in the West Bank and Gaza, with 44% reporting incomes of over NIS 4,500 a month.

The biggest concerns of east Jerusalem residents should their neighborhood become Palestinian are losing access to Al-Aksa Mosque, losing access to employment in west Jerusalem, lack of freedom of movement in Israel, and having to switch from Israeli health funds to Palestinian healthcare.

Residents were also worried, if their neighborhood were to become Israeli, about losing access to Aksa Mosque, discrimination against Arabs, and losing access to land or friends in West Bank.

Many of the residents polled expressed pessimism for the future of a peaceful Jerusalem. Almost half of the respondents said believed that some groups would continue the armed struggle even if there were a final peace agreement, and 63.5% said a new intifada is likely or somewhat likely if current peace efforts collapse.

The study was supervised and designed by former state department Middle East researcher David Pollock and Pechter Polls founder Adam Pechter, who has conducted polls across the Middle East, including Jordan, Egypt,and Iraq.

The east Jerusalem poll was co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.

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