Majority on both sides now believe relations are getting worse
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The announcement at Tuesday's Mideast peace summit that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to a framework for future talks appears to be a step forward. Expectations leading up to the summit have been low, thanks in part to the current U.S. administration's lack of credibility among Muslims in the region. In response to a Gallup Poll conducted in July and August of this year, 91% of Palestinians say they place little or no trust in President George W. Bush to help negotiate a peace treaty that is equally fair to both sides (among Israelis, the percentage is much lower at 43%).
But pessimism about the peace process among both Palestinians and Israelis may not be contingent on who is brokering the current round of negotiations. The poll found that only 31% of Israelis believe permanent peace will ever be achieved, while 56% feel it will not. Palestinians are even less likely to express hope: 21% say permanent peace will be achieved; 71% say it will not. Results among Israelis and Palestinians have changed little since this question was last asked in January 2006.
Israelis' perceptions of the current trajectory of Israel-Palestine relations have grown considerably more negative since early 2006. The proportion saying relations are getting worse rose from 37% to 59%, while the number saying relations are staying the same dropped from 45% to 26%. The changes likely point to the effect on Israelis of landscape-altering events such as Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections, which occurred just after the earlier survey was conducted, and the military conflict in Lebanon that erupted between Israel and Hezbollah in July 2006.
Palestinians' perceptions about the direction of relations are similar to those of Israelis; 62% believe Israeli-Palestinian relations are getting worse, while 27% say they are staying the same and just 11% feel they are improving. Among Palestinians, however, these figures do not represent a significant shift in perceptions since the 2006 survey.
Results from Israel are based on face-to-face interviews conducted July-August 2007 with a randomly selected sample of 872 Israeli residents, aged 15 and older. For results based on the Israeli sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±4 percentage points.
Results from the Palestinian Territory are based on face-to-face interviews conducted July 2007 with a randomly selected sample of 1,000 Palestinian residents. For results based on the Palestinian sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.