Washington/Houston, 24 November 2003: In a public opinion poll jointly sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston and the International Crisis Group released today, majorities among both Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza expressed their support for a peace proposal that would resolve the key issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees and the role of the international community.
Israelis and Palestinians were asked whether they would support the following proposal:
Suppose there was a peace proposal between Israel and Palestine that ends the conflict, recognizes two sovereign states – the State of Israel and the State of Palestine – and provides for full, normal diplomatic and other relations between the two countries.
The state of Palestine would be based on the lines of 1967, encompassing Gaza and the West Bank, with mutually agreed minor border modifications. Israel would incorporate a small amount of the West Bank, including settlements such as Ma'alah Adumim that are located close to or on the Green Line in which a majority of its current settlers live. In exchange, the new state of Palestine would get an equivalent amount of land from Israel.
In addition, Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem and the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel.
Each side would govern its holy sites, and there would be internationally-backed guarantees for access by people of all religious faiths and against any excavation.
Also, Palestinian refugees will have the right to return to the state of Palestine and to areas of Israel that will become part of Palestine as a result of the territorial swap. They also may be resettled in third countries or in current host countries, subject to those countries' sovereign decision. Refugees will receive rehabilitation assistance, compensation for property lost and for harm incurred due to their refugee status.
Finally, a U.S.-led multinational force would help provide security and ensure implementation of the agreement.
53.3 percent of Israelis polled said they would support such a proposal while 43.9 percent said they would oppose it. On the Palestinian side, 55.6 percent expressed support and 38.5 percent opposition. The survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates in partnership with TNS/Teleseker and PCPO. 1,241 interviews were conducted, 610 among Israeli citizens and 631 among Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Interviews in Israel were conducted by phone; in the Palestinian Authority, interviews were conducted in person. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 4 percent.
Edward P. Djerejian, Founding Director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy, said, "At such a difficult and painful time for Israelis and Palestinians, this poll is a timely reminder of the fact that majorities on both sides are prepared to embrace an agreement that meets their respective core aspirations and interests."
The results of the survey should have important policy implications. For Robert Malley, Middle East Program Director at the International Crisis Group, "it is the responsibility of Israeli and Palestinian political leaders and of the international community to devise appropriate mechanisms to translate what is the clear popular aspiration on both sides into a political agreement."
B.J. Almond (Houston)
Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels)/Kathy Ward (Washington, DC)
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