Poll: Americans Would Favor One State if Two-state Solution Fails

Most respondents would prefer maintaining Israeli democracy over its Jewishness.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu gears up to meet President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry in Washington ahead of his closing speech at the annual AIPAC confab, a new poll shows that if U.S. efforts toward a two-state solution collapse, most Americans would opt for a one-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The survey, commissioned by well-known pollster Shibley Telhami, found that U.S. public support for a two-state solution is lukewarm. Less than four out of 10 respondents - some 39 percent - said they preferred a solution to the conflict that includes an Israeli and a Palestinian state side-by-side.

Meanwhile, 24 percent said the U.S. should support a "one-state solution with equal citizenship," 14 percent preferred "annexation without equal citizenship," and 10 percent preferred Israel maintaining "occupation indefinitely" as solutions to the conflict.

If a two-state solution were not on the table, however, some two-thirds of respondents would support the creation of one state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs, the poll found. Some 9 percent would choose the annexation option, while 25 percent opted for maintaining the occupation indefinitely.

"Even among respondents who said they wanted American diplomacy to 'lean toward Israel,'" Telhami said in an article in Foreign Policy, "52 percent said they would support one state with equal citizenship - which could, of course, mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state."

When asked whether maintenance of Israel's Jewishness or democracy were more important, two-thirds of respondents chose democracy over Jewishness.

Some 65 percent said the following statement was closer to their view: "I favor Israel's democracy more than its Jewishness. I support a single democratic state in which Arabs and Jews are equal." Nearly a quarter of respondents, meanwhile, identified with the following statement: "I favor the Jewishness of Israel more than its democracy. I support the continuation of Israel's Jewish majority even if it means that Palestinians will not have citizenship and full rights." An option combining a Jewish and democratic state was not offered to respondents.

According to Telhami, these results mean "that if the two-state solution fails, the conversation among the American public might shift to that of a one-state solution as the next-best thing. If American officials feel pressured to respond to this, it will likely create tension in U.S.-Israeli relations."

An Israeli poll released last week found that some 63 percent of Hebrew-speaking Israelis are likely to support a regional peace agreement in principle, even without knowing the full details of the agreement.

That support increased to over three-quarters (76 percent) after the respondents were briefed on the likely details of an agreement, based on the assumed components of Kerry's framework document and an interpretation of the Arab League Peace Initiative, which promises Israel “full diplomatic and normal relations” with 57 Arab and Muslim states, in exchange for a “comprehensive peace agreement” with the Palestinians. In both cases, the responses represented a statistically significant increase over the findings in other surveys conducted over the past few months.