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Palestinian Public Divided on Statehood Preferences

Running Numbers by Emily Sullivan
Reuters
Guards stand near a large razor wire topped fence near Gaza on a cloudy day.

Polling finds that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have different preferences regarding a solution to the conflict with Israel.

An October 25-30 poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Centre (JMCC) finds that the popularity of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is declining among Palestinians. Between April and October of 2021, support for a two-state solution decreased from 39 percent to 29 percent. While 29 percent still represents a plurality of Palestinians supporting this option, support is on the rise for a single binational state in which Israelis and Palestinians would enjoy equal rights (26 percent, up from 21 percent in April). At this point support is nearly equal for either of these two options and for the volunteered option of “a Palestinian state.”

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The public is also divided when it comes to the best method for achieving the Palestinian people’s goals. Public support for armed resistance (33%) is nearly equal to the support for peaceful negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians (34%). While there is also significant support for nonviolent resistance (21%), one in 10 Palestinians remain unsure about the best method for achieving their goals (11%).

Geographic Differences in Opinion

However, the JMCC survey finds notable differences in the preferences of those living in the West Bank versus those in Gaza. In Gaza, pluralities of the public prefer the two-state solution (38%) and believe that peaceful negotiations with Israel are the best method for achieving their goals of ending the occupation and establishing a state (41%). By contrast, in the West Bank, a plurality prefers the binational one-state solution (30%), but West Bankers are more divided on the best method for achieving their goal. Approximately equal portions of West Bank residents favor armed resistance (32%) and peaceful negotiations (29%), with a slightly smaller but significant group favoring non-violent resistance (24%).

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A separate July 25-27 survey of only Israeli citizens, conducted by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute, finds that both the two-state (69%) and one-state (56%) solutions are seen as acceptable by Israeli Arabs. Similarly, eight in 10 supporters of Ra’am—the Arab party in Israel’s governing coalition—find both the two-state and one-state solutions acceptable (80% each). By contrast, the option seen as acceptable by the most Israeli Jews was the continuation of the status quo (42% acceptable).

For more analysis of public opinion surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, download the Chicago Council’s recent issue brief, “Americans Split on Military Aid to Israel, Say Political Status Quo Unacceptable.

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About the Author
Research Assistant, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy
Emily Sullivan joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2021 as a research assistant on the Public Opinion team.