Last updated: 31 January, 2014

Israeli-Palestinian peace hopes sapped over 20 years

Faith in the Middle East peace process has largely evaporated among Israelis and Palestinians in the two decades since the Oslo accords and a famous White House lawn handshake, a new poll found Friday.

According to the Zogby Research Services poll, neither side has much confidence in the new push for peace being led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which the pollsters believe is proving a hard sell.

Although two decades have elapsed since then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands watched by then US leader Bill Clinton, “it is clear several deep differences exist” plaguing the atmosphere between the two sides.

“Twenty years later only 18 percent of Palestinians and 19 percent of Israelis view Oslo as a positive development in the history of their relationship,” the poll said.

Both sides believe the other is not committed to peace.

And only around a third of people in each community sees a two-state solution as feasible, even though 74 percent of Israelis and 47 percent of Palestinians agree it is the desired outcome.

“From the results of this poll, it is clear that the past 20 years have taken a toll on the confidence both Palestinians and Israelis have in the peace process that began with the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords,” the poll said.

Kerry is currently trying to draw up a framework agreement which would set out the end game in the resumed negotiations and guide the talks going forward over the next few months.

“The question is how they sell the framework agreement. I am not sure that the Israelis would buy it. The Palestinians are not buying it. It is a difficult bill to sell,” James Zogby told AFP.

The poll was carried out in the Middle East in August 2013 among 1,000 Israelis and Palestinians, just as Kerry persuaded the two sides to resume talks after a three-year hiatus.

Twenty years ago both Palestinians, some 61 percent, and Israelis, some 54 percent, said they “were hopeful” when the Oslo accords were signed, setting out a roadmap for the peace process.

And both sides, Palestinians (57 percent) and Israelis (63%), believe “that the United States could have done more to make the accords work.”

As for Kerry’s current efforts, only 41 percent of Palestinians say they are hopeful it might work or will wait for the result, while 39% of Israelis say they are hopeful.

“Getting the deal is half of the battle. Selling it is the other half,” said Zogby to AFP.