New Poll: 86% Of Arabs ‘Prepared For Peace’ With Israel

A new poll of the Arab world has been getting a lot of attention for the precipitous drop in confidence in President Obama that it reveals, but equally as interesting to me is what the poll shows about Arab attitudes toward a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

86% of respondents are “prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem.”

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A plurality of 39% believes that the conflict will be ended through negotiations, with a minority of 16% believing it will end through war.

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Only 21% of respondents named the Palestinian “right of return” — a red line for Israel — as their most important concern, with a plurality of 46% naming the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as their highest concern.

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While it’s unlikely that Israel will withdraw from all lands occupied in 1967 (the general understanding is that Palestinians will be compensated for post-67 land retained by Israel through agreed land swaps), this poll does effectively demolish the claim that the Arabs are simply unwilling to accept Israel — especially when combined with the fact that there has been a comprehensive Arab peace initiative on the table since 2002, an initiative to which Israel to this day has yet to formally respond.

As one Israeli official remarked to me on a recent trip, given that the Palestinians have fulfilled most of their road map obligations, the Israelis “are desperate to find evidence of Palestinian wrongdoing” in order to combat the perception — bolstered by Netanyahu’s refusal to honor Israel’s past commitments on settlements, which remains a huge issue for the Palestinians — that it is the Israelis who are the intransigent party. Given these new poll numbers, combating that perception just became a bit harder.