B’Tselem is publishing the results of its new commissioned public opinion survey. The survey, conducted by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin and Dr. Khalil Shikaki, took a fresh approach by examining what all people living under Israeli control – Israeli and Palestinian citizens and Palestinian subjects in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (WBG&EJ) –think about the current situation, their lives and the future, analyzed as a single population unit, rather than two separate populations.
The poll found that 45% of the overall river-to-the-sea population say that the definition of “apartheid” proposed in the survey question is fitting or very fitting as a description of the Israeli regime. A strong majority among Palestinian respondents believe that the apartheid definition fits the Israeli regime (57% “strongly” and 18% “somewhat” – three-quarters in total) and a mirror image among Jews reject it (50% say it doesn’t fit at all and 25% doesn’t really fit – three-quarters in total).
Both Jews and Palestinians recognize that Israel is in control of the West Bank (either entirely on its own, or together with the PA):
- Of the total population between the river and the sea, two-thirds (67%) believe Israel controls the West Bank either exclusively or with the PA – this total includes 93% of Palestinians respondents in the WB and Gaza and 50% of Jews.
- Among Israeli citizens, when the high portion of Palestinian citizens who believe Israel fully or partly controls the region is factored in, altogether, two-thirds of all Israelis (66%) believe Israel controls the West Bank on its own or together with the PA.
- • A cross-sector consensus of 74% says Israel controls who leaves and enters Gaza (the portion who believe Israel has total control over Gaza is fairly consistent across the communities: 52% among Palestinians in WBG & EJ, and 48% of Jews).
Thus, it comes as no surprise that only a small minority believes that Israel intends to reach a two-state solution. When given four options regarding their assessment of Israeli intentions, only 12% of Palestinian subjects and 14% of Israeli citizens chose a two-state solution. Combined, only 13% of the whole population believe Israel seeks a two-state solution.
- A solid majority of Palestinians (58%) and one-third of Israelis (32%) believe Israel intends to annex the WB.
- A plurality of Jews (43%) and 27% of Palestinians (WBG/EJ) believe that Israel seeks to continue its military control.
Together, these findings reflect a widespread understanding on both sides that the Israeli government intends to continue the status quo or formalize it through de jure annexation.
Palestinian respondents in WBG/EJ do not trust Israeli law enforcement and judicial systems to provide them with justice:
- 82% say that there is only a small chance that the police would treat them fairly if they file a complaint;
- 87% believe the Israeli Supreme Court would NOT treat them fairly.
Most Israelis (51%) and Palestinians (70%) expect that the recent decision of the ICC regarding its jurisdiction over crimes committed in the oPt will NOT cause Israel to restrain its policies.
Given a scenario in which Israel will annex the WB/J&S and grant full citizenship to all residents, Jews and Palestinians alike, with full equal rights including voting rights:
- 68% of Jews oppose this equal one-state concept;
- Only 21% of all Israelis support it (no change from previous surveys).
- Palestinian citizens of Israel support the notion at a higher rate than Jewish citizens (38% compared to 18% among Jews; reflecting higher support than in Btselem’s survey from 2018, when it stood at 27%).
However, when asked about a scenario that is very close to reality – Israeli support declined relative to B’Tselem’s last survey in 2018. The survey asked “Recently there have been calls supporting Israel annexing WB/J&S while continuing to govern Palestinians without giving them citizenship. Israel will continue to separate areas that are open to Palestinians and areas that are open to Jews, in terms of infrastructure, transportation and roads.”
- Just 37% of Israelis (Jews and Palestinian citizens weighted together) support this scenario
- • In 2017, 47% of all Israelis supported this same concept; 40% in 2018.
- • Among Jews, after a vigorous debate throughout 2020 over the real possibility that Israel would enact a very similar policy, support among Jews declined steadily over the three surveys, from 52% in 2017 to 41% at present.
An interesting finding shows only tepid support for the Nation State Basic Law that establishes Jewish supremacy as a constitutional principle, a law that was enacted with broad political support from most of the Zionist parties:
- Over one third of all Israelis support repealing the Nation State law (36% of all Israelis, and 29% of Jews).
- Only 46% of Israelis (53% of Jews) support keeping the law as is (the remainder take no position).
Yet there is a marked shift in the acceptance of Palestinians as legitimate political actors in the Israeli government:
- For the first time since testing the question in April 2019, the idea of an Arab party in Israel joining the governing coalition is accepted by a majority of Israelis – 54% find this either “very” acceptable or acceptable:
- Among Jews, support rose from 35% in April 2019 (and steady results in three related surveys through early 2020) to 49% now.
- The rise was most dramatic among the Jewish right-wing and centrists, from 19% of the right who said it was acceptable in 2019, to 31% at present; among the centrists, from 50% (April 2019), to two-thirds (67%) at present.
Among Palestinian respondents in WBG/EJ, a significant portion is prepared to participate in Israeli elections:
- o Over one quarter of Palestinian respondents (28%) say that if they were allowed to vote in Israeli elections, they would support Palestinian parties competing in those elections –with no difference between Gaza and the West Bank;
- o A similar portion (30%) of Palestinians even specified which party they would personally consider voting for under a scenario in which they were allowed to vote; while two-thirds at present said they would not vote in an Israeli election. However, here Gazans were more enthusiastic: 40% chose a party they might support, and just 57% said they would not participate; while just 21% of West Bank Palestinians chose a party, and nearly three-quarters said they would not vote.
The survey was commissioned by Btselem and authored by Dr. Dahlia Scheidlin and Dr. Khalil Shikaki.
Sample methodologies –
- N=800: N=600 Jews (Hebrew), N=200 Palestinian citizens of Israel (Arabic) – representative sample of the adult population (18+)
- Data collection (Jews): internet panel, New Wave Research
- Data collection (Palestinian citizens): Dr. Hisham Jubran, telephone
- Dates of data collection: 14-19 February 2021
- Margin of Error: +/-3.5%, higher for subsamples
- N=913 – representative sample of the adult population (18+)
Face to face interviews: 913; 598 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and 315 Gaza Strip
Dates of data collection: 11-16 February 2021
Margin of error is +/-4%, higher for subsamples
Total population/total sample analysis: Combined weighted total based on Israeli CBS & Palestinian CBS data for 18+ (East Jerusalem respondents counted in Palestinian subjects sample). Based on these sources, the percentage of each sector among the 18+ population is:
- 56% Jews
- 10% Palestinian citizens of Israel
- 34% Palestinian WBG/EJ
Among the total population including all ages, rather than the adult population, there is approximate demographic parity between Jews and Palestinians based on official census figures of both sides.