An Israeli-Palestinian poll conducted in recent months by Prof. Tamar Hermann of the Israel Democracy Institute and Dr. Halil Shikaki asked Israelis and Palestinians if they would agree to a two-state solution by which Israel would recognize Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people and Palestine would recognize Israel as the state for the Jewish people. Of the Israeli Jews polled, 62.8 percent agreed. And while only a minority of Palestinians agreed, it was a significant minority – 43.3 percent. The Palestinian public is more moderate than the positions its leadership expresses on the matter. Israeli Arabs agreed to the idea, contrary to their leaders, by a clear majority of 68 percent.
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I think we can manage leaving out Israels national identity in the peace deal. The real question is the right of return. I have a better suggestion for what needs to be said in the preamble of a peace agreement: The Palestinian side declares – its a real shame we failed to wipe out Israel when it was small. Its a real shame, but because we failed, we understand that the 1948 refugees and their descendants are not returning. And now, if you give us a country based on the 1967 lines with agreed upon territorial exchanges, there will be peace. And the Israeli side declares – we made a deal. Thats the preamble, now the clauses of the agreement.
Such a formulation provides a stable ideological basis for historic reconciliation between the two peoples. However, the diplomats will certainly seek diplomatic formulae, and the surveys data provides room for hope that if the substantial disagreements will be solved, it will be possible on this issue to find a formula that both sides will be able to live with.
Regarding the Israeli Arabs position – it is a given that their support of mutual recognition in this formula does not mean ideological identification with the idea of the Jewish state. However, it is also clear that active rejection of defining Israel as a Jewish state, which characterizes the public Arab discourse, does not reflect the position of most of the Arab public.
There is nothing new here. A 2015 survey by Prof. Sammy Smooha found that 56.1 percent of Arab respondents agreed that Arab citizens will have the status of a minority with full civil rights in a Jewish and democratic state, and they will be at peace with it. A slight majority, 51.7 percent, are prepared to vote in a referendum for a constitution that would define Israel as a Jewish and democratic state that promises full civil rights for Arabs.
It is thus clear that the Jewish state is in a stable situation. The support of the Jewish majority for it is much stronger than the Arab minoritys reservations (this is the correct word, not rejection). In this situation, the idea of waging the struggle for quality and integration of the Arab minority under the banner of the abolition of the Jewish state, as the Arab leadership is doing – as well as some Jews – is baseless like no other.
Anyone who wants to really abolish the national independence of the Jewish people is welcome to try – but to let the Jewish majority feel that they are rejecting the very right to a state because of an argument over the definition that the majority expressly feels in its soul, at a time when the most of the minority do not reject it in their souls, where is the logic? On the other hand, it is also clear that there is no need to defend the Jewish state through means like the proposed nationality bill, which does a disservice to the Jewish state just as rejecting the Jewish state does a disservice to Arab citizens. The Jewish state is, as noted, in a stable situation, on one small condition – that they dont eradicate it by swallowing up the territories and perpetuating the occupation.