Israelis more wary of Saudi peace plan than Palestinians

Fifty-four percent of Israelis oppose the US-backed initiative, while 58% of Palestinians favor it.

Saudi King Abdullah 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Saudi King Abdullah 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Fifty-four percent of Israelis oppose the US-backed Saudi peace initiative, while 58% of Palestinians favor it, according to a recent study by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. The Israeli sample group was comprised of 600 adults, both Jewish and Arab, while the Palestinian group was made up of 1,270 adults from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Among both the Palestinian and Israeli public, the study finds that support for the Clinton (Geneva) plan has been steadily declining with only 38% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis in favor of it. Presented by former US President Bill Clinton at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials on December 23, 2000, this plan addressed final borders and territorial exchange, refugees, division of Jerusalem, a demilitarized Palestinian state, security arrangements, and an end to the conflict. The Saudi plan calls for an Israeli retreat from territories captured in the Six Day War, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. It states that the Palestinian refugee issue must be dealt with through negotiations in accordance with UN resolution 194, and that a Palestinian state must be established. In exchange for all of this, Arab states will recognize Israel and normalize relations with the Jewish state. Forty percent of Israelis now support accepting and implementing the Saudi peace initiative, as opposed to the 44% that supported it last December. Palestinian support for the plan has remained consistent, with 56% backing it in December 2008 and 58% favoring the plan today. In regards to both sides' perception of the another, only 29% of Israelis believe the Palestinians will reject the Saudi plan, while 49% of Palestinians believe Israel will rebuff it. The study also polled Israelis and Palestinians concerning their feelings on US involvement in the peace process compared to their expectations last December after US President Barak Obama's election. The results showed that a majority of Palestinians consider Obama's policies to be more supportive of Israel, while Israelis saw it the other way around. In general, Israelis are growing frustrated with American pressure and are less enthusiastic about America's involvement in the region. The study also found that Israelis are worried about the continuation of America's vital aid and support to Israel. Interestingly, the study found that 52% of Israelis support talks with Hamas if necessary to reach a deal with the Palestinians, and 66% of the Israeli public support talks with a national unity government composed of both Hamas and Fatah.