Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

After Oct. 7, just 19% of Israeli Jews believe a Palestinian state can peacefully coexist with Israel

(JTA) — The share of Israeli Jews who believe an Israeli and a Palestinian state can peacefully coexist has plummeted since Oct. 7, according to a new survey.

The figure of 19 percent, reported in a study published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, was the lowest since Pew started surveying Israelis in 2013. It is down from 32 percent in a survey released just weeks before the war broke out.

In 2013, according to Pew, nearly half of Israeli Jews — and a majority of Israelis overall — supported a two-state solution. In 2005, another polling firm found that most Israeli Jews supported the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This year, a quarter of Israeli adults overall — including nearly half of Israeli Arabs — believe a Palestinian state and Israel can peacefull exist side-by-side. That takeaway is one of a number from Thursday’s Pew survey that show Israelis hunkering down for more conflict as the Israel-Hamas war is about to enter its eighth month. The survey of roughly 1,000 Israeli adults was taken in March and April — before Israel’s invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah and other recent developments — and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

The survey also shows wide gaps between Jewish and Arab respondents. Among Arab Israelis, for example, 74 percent say “Israel’s military response against Hamas in Gaza has gone too far.” Only four percent of Jewish Israelis agree.

And while 76 percent of Jewish Israelis say Israel will achieve its goals in the war, only half as many Arab Israelis, 38 percent, say the same.

But Israeli Arabs and Jews share some of the same concerns about the war: 61 percent of both groups are worried about the war spreading to other fronts — a concern that has been top-of-mind for many in the region and beyond after constant exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the first direct attacks between Iran and Israel and violence on other fronts.

And at a time when Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s national security adviser, said he anticipated the war will last until the end of this year, the poll found that significant majorities of both groups (77 percent of Arabs, 66 percent of Jews) are worried about the war “lasting a long time.”

The poll also measured one of the most vexing and divisive questions of the war: Who should control Gaza when the battles are over. The lack of a detailed plan for a postwar scenario has led to rifts within Israel’s government as well as between Israel and the United States.

The poll found that 40 percent of Israelis, including half of the Jewish respondents, believe that Israel should continue to control the territory in a postwar scenario, while 18 percent believe it should be run by a version of the Palestinian Authority — which governs Palestinian population centers in the West Bank but which Netanyahu has shut out. Meanwhile, 14 percent say people who live in Gaza should decide who governs them. Nine percent of Arab Israelis, and 2 percent of Jewish Israelis, say Hamas should continue to rule the enclave.

In addition to being taken before the launch of the Rafah operation, the poll was conducted before other landmark developments of recent weeks — including a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court announcing he was seeking Netanyahu’s arrest and President Joe Biden saying that he would suspend delivery of some large bombs to Israel in a bid to influence the scope of Israel’s Rafah invasion.

But even before those events, the poll showed disapproval of Biden’s handling of the war rising in Israel. Biden was broadly popular among Israelis for his embrace of the country following Oct. 7, but by the time the poll was taken, 60 percent of Israeli Jews — and 86 percent of Israeli Arabs — said they did not approve of how he was handling the war.

Also unpopular was Netanyahu who, the poll found, had a lower favorability rating than at any point in the 11 years Pew has asked the question, at 41 percent. The two other leaders in his war cabinet, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, fared better, with Gantz at 51 percent and Gallant at 61 percent. A more recent poll shows that Netanyahu’s popularity, which nosedived after Oct. 7, is recovering among the Israeli public.


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