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coming years there will be peace between Israel and the Arabs?’. Although with only a slim
margin, the Israeli majority has consistently been positive towards the peace process and
optimistic about the potential for peace – the surveys show that around 50 to 60 percent
of Israelis believe that there can and will be peace with the Arabs. The index peaked immediately
following the assassination of the Prime Minister Rabin on November 4th, 1995,
when the survey showed that 70 percent of Israelis believed in the possibility of achieving
Israeli support for the Oslo Accords, based on the principle of handing over territory in
the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians in exchange for peace, peaked in this November
1995 measure – nearly 60 percent of Israelis surveyed supported the accords. Since
then, support for the Oslo Accords has steadily decreased, and has languished well below
50 percent since the outbreak of the so-called al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000 (31.4
percent in December 2007 when this index was measured for the last time). In other words,
the price that Israel has been expected to pay, in exchange for peace with the Palestinians,
has lost Israeli public support. The Israeli public’s perception that there is no legitimate
Palestinian voice to talk with, and the absence of a genuine Palestinian peace implementer,
has turned the Israeli public more favorably towards the government’s unilateral strategies.
Israel withdrew from the remaining 40 percent of the Gaza Strip in August 2005. The
present Israeli government subscribes to a further unilateral strategy, concerning the West
Bank, which leaves much less than 40 percent of the West Bank territory to the Palestinians.
This proposal had broad public support, notwithstanding that not all details have yet
been presented; besides the previous plans presented by the then Prime Minister Olmert
at the Annapolis negotiations, in October 2008. After Israel’s Gaza War against Hamas in
December 2008-January 2009, claims that the Palestinians do not want peace, or that
they do not have a sincere desire to compromise, increasingly pervade Israeli public discourse.

Previous research on Palestinian public opinion

What, then, do we know about the perceptions of the Palestinians concerning the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict? The methodological problems associated with an analysis of the
Palestinian political culture are mainly related to finding data that reflects the Palestinian
population at large. During the Oslo Era, 1993-2000, it became fashionable to measure
Palestinian attitudes, a trend related to the fact that it became possible to survey the Palestinian
population in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, several opinion poll institutes conduct
studies on the shifts in and positions of Palestinian public opinion. The Palestinian
Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in Ramallah is one such institute that has,

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