Although more than three-quarters of Israelis don’t believe Palestinians are interested in reaching a peace deal with Israel, 76 percent would support an agreement that was supported by the Arab League and Arab states, according to a new Israeli poll.
Koby Huberman, co-founder of the Israeli Peace Initiative Group, which commissioned the poll, said such a finding is noteworthy because even among the “soft right” there is an increasing willingness “to accept a far reaching deal on the Arab peace initiative — and they will support [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu if he does make such an historic decision.”
“They would be willing to accept a deal as a package deal more than a bilateral agreement,” he added.
The poll, conducted Feb. 6 of 500 Israelis, was released Feb. 27, just days before Netanyahu is scheduled to meet at the White House Monday with President Barack Obama. Obama reportedly wants Netanyahu to agree to a framework agreement proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry that would lead to a peace agreement by the end of the year.
In a conference call arranged by the Israel Policy Forum, a non-profit organization that promotes U.S. intervention to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace through a two-state solution, Huberman said the results of this survey were being sent to American, Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders.
Interestingly, he said Israelis agreed to accept a deal even if the Palestinians did not recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, a statement that Netanyahu has said must be a cornerstone of any agreement.
Pollster Jacob Jacoby, chairman of New Wave Research, said the findings from his poll revealed that “Israelis on the extreme right will not accept anything, regardless of how it is packaged.”
“But those on the soft right – who voted for Likud or Shas or Yesh Atid and are pragmatic and would never buy anything from the left – showed support for this package,” he said.
“The idea is a package, rather than individual components. If you tell me this is what is needed for security and economic benefits, I am ready to make the concessions [they want] – but you must tell me this is the end of my problem, that there are not going to be incremental changes. And the soft right [adopting this view] is the best news of the day.”
The poll found that 55 percent of Israelis believe that “without intervention by the Arab states and the Arab League,” a deal with the Palestinians will not happen. And 63 percent said they were “sure” or “think” they would in principle support a deal that was part of a regional peace agreement – even without knowing the components of the deal.
When the nine potential elements of the regional agreement were enumerated, some 70 percent of Israelis – including some from the extreme right – were willing to accept the various options. Only two of the components – the Holy Sites would not be under any specific sovereignty, and Arab citizens and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would be considered to be Palestinian and East Jerusalem would be part of the Arab capital – received the support of around of slightly less than 50 percent of Israelis questioned.
Regarding Netanyahu, the poll found there would be “moral, political and concrete support” for him were he to present such an end of conflict agreement. Specifically, 73 percent said they would support him and 56 percent said they would vote for him were he to start a new party.
The seven other components of an end of conflict settlement – based upon the latest information the pollsters had – included: the removal of the threat of economic boycott; no right of return for Palestinian refugees (except for a symbolic number Israel would agree with); security arrangements to protect Israel from Iran and terror; Palestine will be demilitarized; the U.S., the super powers and the Arab states would guarantee long-term support; Israeli borders will include the settlements with only minor territorial exchanges.