Israeli Arabs are losing confidence in the prospect of a two-state solution in the Holy Land, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that also reveals deep divisions between the country’s religious groups and within its majority Jewish population.
Between October 2014 and May 2015, Pew researchers collected responses from 5,601 Israeli adults through face-to-face interviews conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.
The extensive fieldwork required for the survey aimed to capture responses from the varied socioeconomic strata of Israel’s 8.5 million population. The margin of error for this survey is 3% for Israeli Jews, but higher among Christian, Muslim and Druze subgroups, a minority comprising roughly one-fifth of the Israeli population.
In 2013, Israeli Arabs were strikingly optimistic that a two-state solution was possible, a survey of attitudes across six countries and the Palestinian territories revealed. Nearly 75% of Israeli Arabs said they believed Israel and an independent Palestinian state could peacefully coexist. That figure has dropped to 50%.
Less than half of Israeli Jews (43%) believe the peace process will be successful, according to the Pew poll
A majority of Orthodox Jews in the United States (63%) and Israel (64%) have little faith in a two-state solution, while secular Jews are much more optimistic, according to Pew’s surveys.
Mounting tension in Jerusalem, the 2014 War in Gaza and a shifting geopolitical landscape have likely affected regional attitudes toward the viability of a two-state solution since the last survey in 2014.
Both Israeli Arabs and Jews now express deep skepticism about the sincerity of political leaders’ efforts to reach an agreement, with 72% of Arabs expressing distrust in the Israeli government and 88% of Jews questioning the sincerity of Palestinian leadership.
But distrust isn’t only directed at opposing camps; roughly 40% of both Jews and Arabs say their own political leaders aren’t doing enough.
Above all, the survey indicates both intra-religious and inter-religious social divisions within the country. Ninety-eight percent of Jews say most or all their close friends share their faith, and 85% of Muslims say the same, though Muslims are more likely than Jews to have friends who are Christian or Druze.
Additionally, the survey tried to discover if lines of division existed within the Jewish population.
Israeli Jews were asked to identify with one of four religious subgroups, each with varying levels of religious observance: Haredi (“ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”), and Hiloni (“secular”).
Both Haredi and Dati Jews are generally considered Orthodox, while Masorti Jews span the gap of observance between Orthodox and secular Jews.
Responses revealed Israeli Jews are divided into communities based on levels of religiosity, with minimal interaction occurring between groups.
Roughly nine-in-10 Haredim (89%) say all or most of their close friends are also Haredi Jews; likewise, 90% of Hilonim say all or most of their friends are secular. These Jewish communities expressed deep aversion to inter-marriage, unlike the 44% of American Jews who have married outside their faith.
Different factions of Israeli society hold contrasting views on Arab persecution, the compatibility of a democratic state with Jewish law, and religion’s role in public life.
These views often hold significant political ramifications, especially in regard to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The majority of Muslims (61%), Christians (79%) and Druze (66%) in Israel say settlements hurt Israel’s security, with 30% of Jews saying the same.