Only one in three Palestinians (34 percent) accepts two states for two peoples as the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip completed this week by American pollster Stanley Greenberg.
The poll, which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, was conducted in partnership with the Beit Sahour-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion and sponsored by the Israel Project, an international nonprofit organization that provides journalists and leaders with information about the Middle East.
The Israel Project is trying to reach out to the Arab world to promote “people-to-people peace.” The poll appears to indicate that the organization has a difficult task ahead.
Respondents were asked about US President Barack Obama’s statement that “there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.”
Just 34% said they accepted that concept, while 61% rejected it.
Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.
Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92% said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1% said the capital of Israel, 3% the capital of both, and 4% a neutral international city.
Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.
When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80% agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.
But only 45% said they believed in the charter’s statement that the only solution to the Palestinian problem was jihad.
The survey’s more positive findings included that only 22% supported firing rockets at Israeli cities and citizens and that two-thirds preferred diplomatic engagement over violent “resistance.”
Among Palestinians in general 65% preferred talks and 20% violence. In the West Bank it was 69-28%, and in Gaza, 59- 32%.
Asked whether they backed seeking a Palestinian state unilaterally in the UN, 64% said yes. The number was 57% in the West Bank and 79% in Gaza. Thirty-seven percent said the UN action would bring a Palestinian state closer, 16% said it would set back the establishment of a state, and 44% said it would make no difference.
When asked what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s top priorities should be, 83% said creating jobs. Just 4% said getting the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, and only 2% said peace talks with Israel.
Israel Project president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said she was encouraged that the Arab Spring would bring more accuracy to Arab media and by the 59% of Palestinians who are on Facebook. The Israel Project has 80,723 friends for its Arabic site, which has had 9.5 million page views in two months.
“Some of the numbers in the poll are discouraging, but we are trying to change them,” she said at a Jerusalem press conference in which Greenberg presented the findings.
Greenberg said the survey proved that there was a big need for public education and leadership on the Palestinian side.
Next week, they have meetings scheduled in the White House and the Pentagon.
Israeli leaders told Greenberg and Laszlo Mizrahi they were encouraged by Palestinian support for talks.
“The Palestinians want solutions, not revolutions,” Peres told them according to Laszlo Mizrahi.