February 15, 2019 | By Dina Smeltz

Opinion Landscape Not Ideal for New Mideast Peace Plan

At a Middle East conference this month in Warsaw, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Mideast adviser, said that the administration will unveil its much-vaunted Middle East peace plan after the April 9 Israeli elections. The plan will have an uphill climb, to say the least.  Palestinian leaders have already rejected the forthcoming plan in light of the administration’s relocation of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and its withdrawal of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinians. Moreover, a joint 2018 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) based in Ramallah and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) based in Tel Aviv found that support for a two-state solution – still the most preferred option – has steadily fallen to its lowest levels in more than a decade (49% among Israelis, 43% among Palestinians). One troubling finding is that those between the ages of 18-24 are the least supportive.  At the same time, the 2018 Chicago Council Survey finds that American public support for an “independent Palestinian state” on the West Bank and Gaza strip is at its highest level yet (49%), with strongest support among self-described Democrats (62%, 46% Independents, 36% Republicans).

Khalil Shikaki and Dahlia Scheindlin, the authors of the joint survey report, offer three explanations for the decline in support:  a lack of trust that the other side is sincere about efforts to reach a peace agreement, skepticism that a two-state solution is viable, and the significant opposition among highly ideological “national-religious and Haredi Israelis and the Palestinian Islamists.” The authors conclude that the perceived lack of feasibility is the most critical factor. Israelis sense that the status quo is good enough, and Palestinians sense that “settlement spread has gone too far” and have lost hope since they feel abandoned by the US as a negotiator.  

Given the direction the Trump administration has moved US policy on Israel thus far, and Palestinians' sense that the US is a biased party, the outlook for the forthcoming plan seems pretty bleak.

For more details see the polling by PCPSR and TSC and An Najah University.

 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

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