A new survey asks Israelis and Arabs from neighboring countries what they think about peace and the responses are both reassuring and disturbing.
Survey: Arabs and Israelis
From June 24 to July 5, 2020, Zogby Research Services surveyed the attitudes of 1,005 Israeli respondents and 3,600 Arab respondents in five countries (Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE).
It is important to note that the survey was carried out over one month before the announcement of the Abraham Accords establishing normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The surveys focused on attitudes toward the prospects of reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Israel’s impending annexation of West Bank lands, the desirability of some Arab states normalizing relations with Israel, and the impact that annexation would have on normalization.
Resolution with Palestinians is Important
Significant majorities (more than eight in 10) among both Israeli and Arab respondents felt that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important. A majority of Arab respondents said normalizing ties with Israel, without a peace agreement with the Palestinians, was undesirable – with the exception of the UAE where 56% said it was still desirable. A majority of Arab respondents thought that some Arab states were still likely to establish ties with Israel without the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ending.
But while majorities in all Arab countries are hopeful that peace will be established in the next five years (between 53% and 57% in Jordan and Palestine, respectively, and 76% in the UAE), only 15% of Israelis share that optimism.
Arabs’ Reason to Convince Israel: Stopping Violence and “Helping Palestinians”
Almost four in ten in all of the Arab countries (except Palestinians) say Arabs should do more to convince Israel of the benefits of peace and, therefore, find it desirable to explore normalizing ties with Israel even before a peace agreement is reached. Among the top reasons cited for normalizing are the importance of choosing peace to stop the violence and the possibility that with normal ties Arabs would have greater leverage to help secure Palestinian rights.
70% of Arabs say Annexation by Israel is a Peace Deal Breaker
Seven in ten Arab respondents say that annexation by Israel of Judea and Samaria would cause them to end support for developing ties with Israel.
15% of Israelis are willing to support the complete annexation of the territories regardless of the consequences.
Majority of Arabs Want Initiative That Gives Jerusalem to Palestinians
Majorities of Arab respondents in all countries (except Palestinians) believe the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative are still relevant, including 78% of Emiratis, 69% of Saudis, 68% of Egyptians, and 53% of Jordanians.
The Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi Initiative, is a proposal for an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict that was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 at the Beirut Summit. The initiative offers normalization of relations by the Arab world with Israel, in return for a full withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon), a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Majority of Arabs Believe Peace Will Happen Even Without Palestinian Deal
About seven in 10 Arab respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE believe it is likely that Arab states will develop normalized ties with Israel even without a peace agreement with the Palestinians; a majority of Palestinians (55%) agree. And four in 10 Egyptians, Saudis, and Jordanians say such normalization would be at least somewhat desirable (with about six in 10 saying it would undesirable). These numbers are reversed among Emiratis who are more inclined to see normalization as desirable (56% vs. 44% who say it is undesirable). Among Palestinians, 69% say normalization is undesirable.