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New Polling: Israelis Favor Peaceful Resolution, Palestinians Embrace “Armed Struggle”

A new poll [PDF] by the Pew Research Group highlights stark differences between Israeli and Palestinian public sentiment on a range of issues, including on the need for a peaceful two-state resolution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Israelis continue to believe in a peaceful two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, while a plurality of Palestinians believe in “armed struggle” to achieve a state. Six in ten Israelis said they believe a peaceful two-state solution to the Middle East conflict is possible, while just 14% of Palestinians said the same. A large plurality of Palestinians (45%) said “armed struggle” is the way to achieve statehood, while half that proportion said a combination of violence and talks, 15% said talks alone and a similar percentage said “nonviolent resistance.”

Pew was blunt in its evaluation:

Israelis, on balance, believe a way can be found for an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully with their country. Palestinians, on the other hand, overwhelmingly do not think this is possible, and a plurality believes armed struggle rather than negotiations or nonviolent resistance is the best way to achieve statehood.

Sixty-one percent of Palestinians said they support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, barely above support for Islamic Jihad (56%) and 13 points ahead of Hamas (48%).

Last week Pew released the results of an exhaustive survey of 38,000 people in nearly 39 Muslim countries. Asked if acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, Palestinians led all other respondents, with 40% answering in the affirmative. Asked if they favor the establishment of Sharia law, 89% of Palestinians said yes, behind only Afghanistan (99%) and Iraq (91%).

Israelis and Palestinians also differ sharply on how they regard the United States. 83 percent of Israelis reported a positive view of the United States. A similar proportion of Palestinians (79%) indicated the opposite, expressing negative feelings toward America. Regarding President Barack Obama 64% of Israeli Jews expressed support while just 15% of Palestinians said the same. 82% of Palestinians said they have little or no confidence in the American president.

Differing sentiments toward Obama came to the fore during the president’s visit to the region in March. At the time Palestinian were filmed tearing down a billboard with Obama’s face on it, defacing it with a swastika, and then driving over it.

[Photo: pewgloabal.org]