SPECIAL REPORT: Jerusalem Arabs withhold support over unilateral Palestinian state, new survey finds

09 May 2011

Less than a third of the Arab population of east Jerusalem (31 percent) prefers to cast its lot with any future Palestinian state, according to David Pollock, the author of the first comprehensive and authoritative survey of Palestinian public opinion in the city, conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls. The former senior adviser on the Middle East at the US State Department presented his findings at a roundtable discussion at the Jerusalem-based Institute of the World Jewish Congress.  Some 40 percent of those surveyed had made clear that if their neighborhoods were incorporated into a Palestinian state they would attempt to move to Israel, Pollock noted. Some 23 percent of respondents were uncertain what they would do. Among the reasons given for their preference for Israeli citizenship were the freedom of movement of which Israeli citizens benefits, higher income, job opportunities, and the availability of health insurance.

A majority of respondents claimed that a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence would either be injurious to their status or irrelevant, and many expressed concern about whether they would enjoy the right to free speech and freedom of expression under Palestinian rule. Pollock said that according to his survey “any attempt to transfer control over Palestinian neighborhoods would be contrary to the wishes of the majority of Jerusalem's Palestinian population. Many Jerusalem Arabs believe that Israel has 'won the war of attitudes' and prefer the status quo.” The research indicated that currently, Arab Christians constitute only 7 percent of the population of Jerusalem and that they are especially apprehensive about their future prospects.

“Dr. Pollock’s groundbreaking research highlights the complexity of the situation in Jerusalem, which is not always understood, and makes clear that any division of the city is impossible,” said WJC Institute Chairman Mordechai Palzur, a former Israeli ambassador, in his closing remarks.

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