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A Palestinian State and
Israeli Public Opinion

Sarit Yalov
Policy Paper No. 82, from the book,
Israel and a Palestinian State: Zero Sum Game?, 2001


If one wishes to describe the current attitudes of the Jewish public in Israel towards the PLO and a Palestinian state, it seems that the combination of severe terror acts during the years 1994-1996 and a certain change in the message made by the government since 1996 (although not in the messages implied by its political steps), has reversed the tendency of accepting negotiations with the PLO and the creation of a Palestinian state, but has not been sufficient to neutralize the effect of the heavy peace-loving messages brainwashing the public during the last two decades, and turn the clock back full-stop.

The continuous gnawing away of public objection to the Palestinian case as reflected in polls of public opinion, has gained, since the 1980s, such remarkable nourishment by the radical left (mainly by using the media) that when the Labor party came to power in 1992, it had only to finish these dynamics to raise dramatically the percentage of consent to a Palestinian state (mainly by the political step of signing the Oslo accord) from 29% (1992) to 50% (1997).

Examining the gap between answers to some related questions in the polls reveals that although there is still a will to maintain existence and an awareness of the national interest among the Jewish public in Israel, these are dimmed by adapting to steps enforced by the government, conceiving the "peace talks" as an isolated element having no operative consequences, and denying the link between the Arabs' intentions concerning Israel and actual terror acts.

The fact that public polls in Israel are deviated leftward is only half a comfort: the percentage of Jewish citizens expressing consent to a Palestinian state alongside Israel is probably lower than the public data, but the consent of the professional pollsters to the exploitation of this tool in order to promote a certain political view does not seem to lessen.

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