Poll: A Question of Priorities

September 1, 2011


The summer here in Israel has been eventful to say the least. With the Arab world in turmoil, conversations here have often turned of late to the regional implications of protest, government repression, and revolution in two of Israel’s four immediate neighbors. Yet by mid-July, these discussions largely melted away with the emergence of large domestic protests over a host of social issues including high housing and consumer goods prices, low wages, eroded social services, and the current government’s free-market approach to managing the Israeli economy.

With thousands of protestors across the countries organizing marches, rallies, and tent cities particularly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the government too largely shifted its focus from the Palestinian diplomatic front to these pressing domestic concerns. Unfortunately the distance between the government and the protesters remains quite large, with representatives of the various organizations which have joined the protest dismissing early initiatives put forward by the government appointed Trajtenberg committee.

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 3

July 24, 2011


In the previous two posts, I have explored the Israeli public response to the Palestinian Authority’s intent to unilaterally declare independence and seek international diplomatic recognition at the UN General Assembly in September 2011.

Monthly public opinion data gathered by the Peace Index over the last six months indicates that Israelis are increasingly of the belief that the PA’s efforts are credible and that Israel will suffer international condemnation, greater diplomatic isolation, and potentially a new Palestinian intifada if it refuses to recognize a Palestinian state in the territories of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem. However, polling also indicates that Israelis believe that international pressure will not increase significantly nor would greater political moderation by the Israeli government result in a Palestinian return to negotiations or the aversion of a new violent Palestinian uprising, particularly if Israel still refuses to withdraw from the West Bank.

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 2

July 21, 2011

abbas-netanyahu-talksIn yesterday’s post, I explored the issues surrounding the Palestinian Authority’s initiative to receive diplomatic recognition for a Palestinian state in the whole of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem and the Israeli public’s reaction to this initiative.

Analyzing recent public opinion data, it is clear that Israelis believe that the PA will go forward to the UN while continuing to avoid negotiations with Israel. It is also clear that Israelis believe that UN General Assembly recognition for a Palestinian state will cause Israel to become more diplomatically isolated, potentially be subject to international economic sanctions for its continued presence in the West Bank, and potentially even face a new violent Palestinian uprising. Given these pressures, I posed the question: why does Israel not simply accede to Palestinians demands, withdraw from the West Bank, and recognize a Palestinian state?

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Polls: The UNGA and a Palestinian State, Part 1

July 20, 2011


Will the United Nations General Assembly extend diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state in the whole of Gaza, the West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem in September this year? This question has perplexed Israeli policymakers, worried the general public, and invigorated a lively debate in Israeli society on Israel’s international diplomatic standing, its relationship with the Palestinian Authority, and on the question of territorial withdrawal.

With negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a deep freeze since September of 2010, Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence in September 2011 and to request diplomatic recognition from the United Nations Security Council. Expecting an American veto, the PA plans to refer their request to the UN General Assembly in which most expect that they will easily secure majority approval. In a May 2011 op-ed in the New York Times, Abbas claims that negotiations remain their first option, the Palestinians can wait no longer “while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem.”

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Polls: Will Israel Become a Bi-National State?

March 12, 2011


For close observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, discussion regarding the emergence of a bi-national state on the whole of the land in the place of a two-state solution is a familiar, frequently distressing trope.

When Palestinian Authority officials really want to scare the Israeli public, they threaten to dissolve the PA and seek a “one state solution.” Similarly, when left-leaning parties today want to highlight their opposition to continued settlement construction in the West Bank, they raise the issue of a looming “demographic threat.” So too, has it become a significant trope within the major Israeli political parties, Kadima, Likud, and Labor alike to varying degrees, that territorial withdrawal is necessary to preserve Israel’s status as a “Jewish and Democratic state.”

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Polls: Israeli Public Opinion on Land and Population Swaps for Peace

January 30, 2011


Many questions have been raised in the last week about the so-called Palestine Papers leaked to Al Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper. The collection of over 16,000 seemingly official documents purportedly reveal salient details of meetings, emails, and other communications between Israeli, Palestinian, and American negotiators between 2000 and 2010.

Most commentators have focused on the concessions the Palestinian Authority supposedly offered to the Israelis to secure a peace settlement. Significantly less attention has been paid to what Israeli diplomats in these meetings are recorded as considering or offering. One of the most interesting observations in this respect was a proposal by Tzipi Livni in 2008 to transfer the Israeli Arab towns of Barta’a, Baka al-Garbiyeh, and Beit Safafa, situated along the Green Line, to Palestinian control. This approach, which has been publically disallowed by Kadima, has notable similarities with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s peace plan.

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Polls: Division of Jerusalem and Israelis

January 15, 2011

jerusalem-neighborhoods-mapIn my previous post, I examined data drawn from a recent survey of Jerusalem Arabs polling their attitudes toward partition of the city. It was found that Arab residents of East Jerusalem are more in favor of acquiring Israeli citizenship and having their neighborhoods remain in sovereign Israeli territory than they are of becoming Palestinian citizens or having their neighborhoods transferred to Palestinian control. In this post, I will be examining Israeli attitudes toward division of the city.

Since the capture of Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and reunification of the city, Israelis have been staunchly opposed to division. Jerusalem is frequently and popularly referred to as the eternal, united, and indivisible capital of the Jewish people. This attitude is reflected in the municipality and state’s considerable investment in the Old City, particularly the Jewish quarter, its development of archaeological projects and parks in the most historical portions of the city, and its 40 years of neighborhood construction particularly in its expanded eastern “envelope.”

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