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last updated Jan. 18, 2010
published Jan. 12, 1999
Poll No. 39 Part II, December 2000 - Four Months after the Beginning of the Palestinian Intifada: Attitudes of the Israeli and Palestinian Publics towards the Peace Process
Read more:  al-Aqsa intifada, resistance, armed resistance, suicide bombings, Arabs, Oslo agreement, negotiations, Palestinian factions, Palestinian politicians, Palestinian Authority, governance, peace process, elections, public opinion
Summary: Introduction

This report presents the main results of coordinated attitude surveys conducted during late December 2000 by the JMCC and the Steinmetz Center. Both surveys are based on interviews conducted with randomly selected people who represent the adult (over age 18) Palestinian (N= 1199) and Israeli (N=1004) populations. The Palestinian interviews were conducted face-to-face while the Israeli respondents were interviewed by telephone.
Overall, the results reveal large differences between the two publics with regard to their perceptions of who was responsible for the Palestinian uprising and its impact on the peace process. The two publics also differ sharply with respect to the nature of attitude change that has taken place in conjunction with the uprising.

Perceptions related to the Intifada:

Seventy-six percent of the Palestinians believe that Israel is responsible for the recent deterioration in the relations between the two nations, whereas in the Israeli-Jewish public, 61 percent put the blame on the Palestinians. Israeli Arabs are more similar to the Palestinians, although they have a more balanced view: 50 percent thinks that both sides are equally responsible and 40 percent believe that Israel is responsible.

A large majority of the Palestinians (69 percent) believe that the Intifada has increased the readiness of Israel to come closer to the Palestinians’ demands, against 16 percent who think that the readiness has decreased. Among the Israelis the evaluations are in the opposite direction: 53 percent believe that the readiness of Israel has decreased, compared with 26 percent who think that it has increased. A similar contrast appears with regard to the beliefs about the impact of the Intifada on the chance for a peace agreement: 53 percent of the Palestinians think that the chance has increased compared with 31 percent who believe that it has decreased. Among the Israelis, 55 percent think that the chance decreased against 19 percent who believe that it decreased.

A huge gap between the two publics also appears in regard to the question of what is the most efficient way to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. For the large majority of Israelis (74 percent) the best way is through negotiations, with only 13 percent choosing confrontation, 5 percent preferring combination of both ways, and 4 percent who believe that it is impossible to reach an agreement. Among the Palestinians, only 22 percent believe in negotiations, while the rest are divided between those who prefer confrontations (25 percent) or combination of both (14 percent), and those who do not believe in the possibility of a peace agreement. This is perhaps one of the most significant differences between the two publics.

Attitudes before and after the beginning of the Intifada

Within the Palestinian public, the degree of optimism about reaching a peaceful Arab-Israeli settlement has sharply decreased from 60 percent in December 1999 to 33 percent in December 2000, while the rate of pessimists went up from 37 percent to 62 percent. The optimism of the Israeli public has also declined, but more moderately: 54 percent were optimists In December 1999 and 48 percent in December 2000. The rates of pessimism went up from 40 percent to 48 percent. Among the Palestinians there has been during that time a small but significant decrease in the degree of support of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: In December 1999, 56 percent supported this process and 38 percent opposed it. To day, 46 percent support the negotiations and 52 percent are against them. Among the Israelis, on the other hand, the degree of support went up from 54 percent in December 1999 to 64 percent in June 2000, and has remained at exactly the same level in December 2000.

On the issue of an independent Palestinian state, there has been a large decrease in the percentage of Palestinians who believe that the Oslo process will eventually result in the establishment of such a state: In December 1999, 52 percent believed in this possibility and 44 percent didn’t. In December 2000, the comparable figures were 29 percent and 68 percent, respectively. Among the Israelis, the percent of those who believe in this result also went down, but much more moderately. Moreover, in both periods, this percentage was much higher than among the Palestinians: 78 percent in December 1999 and 69 percent to day.

Finally, there have been considerable changes in the mutual perception of each side. While 20.5 percent of the Israelis perceived the Palestinians as violent in December 1999, this view went up to 46 percent to day. An even larger change in the same direction took place among the Palestinians: While 58 percent of them used to perceive Israelis as violent in December 1999, 87.5 percent of the Palestinians perceived them in the same ways in December 2000.
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