Are Settlements an Obstacle to Peace? Survey Looks at Palestinian and Israeli Thoughts on Peace

By | Dec 20, 2012


Just over a quarter of Jewish Israelis think peace with the Palestinians is “possible and likely” in the coming five years, compared to double the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who agree with the optimistic forecast.

The numbers, published as part of a poll released by the Arab American Institute, explored Israeli and Palestinian opinions toward the peace process.

The poll also found that most Jewish Israelis and Palestinians don’t consider settlement expansion—often described as a major snag in negotiations—to be a serious obstacle to peace. 41 percent of Jewish Israelis described settlement expansion as serious obstacle, compared to 87 percent of Israeli Arabs and 46 percent of Palestinians in the territories. Palestinian violence, however, received high numbers in the same poll: 79 percent of Jewish Israelis considered the threat of Palestinians violence a serious threat, compared to 64 percent of Arab Israelis and 43 percent of Palestinians.

The survey, conducted throughout September, looked at the responses of Israeli Jews and Arabs, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, and the American Jewish community.

Respondents from both sides of the conflict also see painful concessions as a major obstacle for peace: 63 percent of Israeli Jews deem them “too difficult,” compared to 79 percent of Israeli Arabs and 49 percent of Palestinians in the territories. Palestinians refugees numbered even higher: 91 percent of those in Lebanon and 64 percent of those in Jordan called the compromises “too difficult.”

“While the deep divisions are expected given the lack of progress on peace, the utility of this data can be found in the areas where common ground can be reached or, at least, where impediments to consensus can be identified,” Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute said in a statement. “In this nexus between potential agreement and likely barriers, we find ideas that can advance peacemaking efforts and as such, a potential framework for renewed negotiations.”

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