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71% Say Middle East Peace Agreement Must Recognize Israel’s Right to Exist

Friday, May 20, 2011

Voters continue to believe strongly that a Middle East peace treaty must include an acknowledgement by Palestinians of Israel’s right to exist, but there’s very little confidence that there ever will be peace between Israelis and Arabs.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 71% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that Palestinian leaders should be required to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Just eight percent (8%) disagree and say this is not essential for a Middle Eastern peace agreement. Another 21% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

While considered essential, polling last fall found that 64% of voters believe such recognition from the Palestinians is unlikely.

Whatever the terms of an agreement, only 15% of voters think it is even somewhat likely that there ever will be peace between Israel and the Arab world, and that includes just two percent (2%) who say it’s Very Likely. Seventy-eight percent (78%) think peace between the two long-time enemies is unlikely, with 27% who say it is Not At All Likely.

This survey was taken prior to President Obama’s new Middle East initiative announced Thursday that requires recognition of Israel’s right to exist but also says Israel’s borders should be limited to those it held prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Most voters think the growing political unrest in the Arab world, further encouraged by the president’s plan, is putting Israel at greater risk in both the short- and long-term.

Voters feel less strongly about requiring Israel to recognize the creation of an independent Palestinian state as part of any peace agreement. Only 57% supported that requirement in June 2009.

Israel’s insistence on building new settlements in disputed Palestinian territory has heightened tensions between the two sides. A plurality (49%) of voters think Israel should be required to stop those settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters nationwide was conducted on May 17-18, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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