Before Jerusalem Bombing, Israelis More Skeptical About Peace

by Elizabeth Mendes

Majority still support peace process

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Prior to the renewed wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that started earlier this year, Israelis had become more pessimistic about the possibility of achieving permanent peace between their country and the Palestinians. Two-thirds of Israelis surveyed in late 2010 said this will never come to pass, up from 60% in 2009.

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Gallup's most recent surveys of Israelis took place in November 2010, several months before the deadly bombing in Jerusalem, the murder of an Israeli family in a West Bank settlement, and the increased rocket attacks from Palestinian militants in Israel.

The surge in violence has not been confined to Israel. Palestinian civilians have been killed in Israeli military attacks that Israel has said are aimed at militants. The last time Gallup asked Palestinians about their hopes for peace in 2008, 75% said they did not believe permanent peace would ever be achieved.

A large majority of Israelis still support the peace process. The 69% who said they strongly or moderately support the peace process last year is the same as in 2009, but down significantly from 81% in 2006. Support has declined each year except for 2008, when Gallup surveys were conducted during a period of renewed violence between Gaza and Israel, which may have influenced Israelis' support for the peace process at that time.

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Israelis Continue to See Relations With Palestinians Getting Worse

About half of Israelis, 51%, said in the 2010 survey that relations between Israelis and the Palestinians were getting worse. This percentage is unchanged from 2009, but well above the 38% who said so in 2006.

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The percentage saying relations are getting worse rose significantly in 2007, likely reflecting Hamas' seizure of control of the Gaza strip in June 2007. Israelis' views have not recovered since, with 3% saying relations were improving last year.

Bottom Line

Israelis have become more pessimistic over the past several years that peace with the Palestinians will ever be achieved, more pessimistic about the direction that Israeli-Palestinian relations are headed, and less supportive of the peace process, according to Gallup surveys. Still, despite years of conflict, a solid majority of Israelis continue to support the peace process.

Regardless, prospects for peace at the moment seem dim. Palestinian leaders have walked away from the negotiating table over Israel's continued construction of West Bank settlements and say they will seek recognition of a Palestinian state from the United Nations. However, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week urged the Palestinians and Israelis to restart the peace talks. If peace talks do not resume, and violence continues to escalate, Israelis' hopes for an end to the conflict could further dissipate, as could their support for the peace process.

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Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in Oct. 1-Nov. 20, 2010, in Israel. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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.

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