Poll: Eastern Jerusalem Arabs say they want to be part of ‘Palestine’

The poll found that only 15 percent of eastern Jerusalem Arab residents surveyed said they would pick Israeli citizenship.

By World Israel News Staff

A new poll finds a dramatic shift in thinking among residents of heavily Arab eastern Jerusalem, with only a small percentage saying they now prefer Israeli over Palestinian citizenship.

The poll found that only 15 percent of eastern Jerusalem Arab residents surveyed said they would pick Israeli citizenship. Between 2010 and 2015, a slight majority, 52 percent, said they would rather be Israeli.

The surveys, which were conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy together with Palestinian pollsters, took place throughout 2018-2019 and in January and February of 2020.

Dr. David Pollock, a senior member of the institute, directed the polling. Pollack parsed the results during an online event sponsored by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.

“They wanted more comfortable access to work, education, healthcare, welfare and social services, and even to the sea,” Pollack, who has polled Palestinian attitudes since 2010, said of earlier survey results.

“But in the past five years, there has been a dramatic change, which I, as a veteran pollster, have never seen anything like it. All of a sudden support dropped between 15 to 52 percent, and only a small minority of east Jerusalem residents now say in polls that if they had the choice, they would choose Israeli citizenship,” Pollock said.

But he said the ‘Knife Intifada’ of 2015 led to an Israeli counterreaction that was bad for the Palestinians. The second reason is religious. The Palestinians have come to believe that Israel poses a threat to the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount, noting recent tensions surrounding the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest in Islam.

Pollock said a third factor is “increased anti-Israel activity in east Jerusalem on the part of the Palestinian Authority, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Turkey and other elements. The fact that 150,000 residents of east Jerusalem currently live ‘beyond the security barrier’ – impeding their access to Israeli services – also influences the sharp change in their positions.”

He also said most Palestinians say that Israel is illegitimate and would like to see it disappear and a Palestinian state rise up on its ashes. “However, they are realistic enough to tell pollsters this is ‘a dream’ and that ‘Israel is here to stay,'” he said.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Pollack’s polls “have garnered considerable interest from the Palestinians, Americans and Israelis, who have all consulted” with him about his findings.

Pollock said polls found that Palestinians aren’t planning another intifada, fearing Israeli reprisals and lacking confidence in their own leadership.

“For now they care more about their day-to-day lives – income, health, education, family,” Pollock said.