Israeli, Palestinian support for two states slipping: poll

Israel expressed strong opposition to a draft resolution that would allow the Palestinian flag to be raised at the United Nations ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders later this month (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Jerusalem (AFP) - A joint Israeli-Palestinian poll published Thursday shows dwindling support on both sides for a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a solution to the conflict.

The survey, by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, shows 51 percent of Israeli respondents in favour of what is known as the two-state solution, down from 62 percent last June.

Support among Palestinians was also 51 percent, down from 54 percent a year ago.

Shortly after the previous survey, Israel fought a war in the Gaza Strip that killed some 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

And in March 2015 Israel voted into power a government consisting largely of nationalist patrons of West Bank Jewish settlement, the ultra-Orthodox and opponents of Palestinian statehood.

"After forming a right wing government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, we asked both sides about their expectations for the future," a Hebrew University statement said.

"The level of perceived threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high."

"Fifty-six percent of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 25 percent think Israel’s goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians."

"Forty-three percent of Israelis think that Palestinians' aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population.

It did not give comparisons with the 2014 poll.

The survey, which questioned 1,200 Palestinians and 802 Israelis, had a margin of error of three percentage points.

Netanyahu sparked international concern during the election campaign when he ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He later tried to backtrack but US President Barack Obama was not convinced.

"The danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility," Obama said in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 television broadcast on June 2.

"Already, the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution," he said.