As peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started and stopped over the last two decades, one polling group has finally decided to ask: What do the Palestinian people want?
A survey conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls and the Council on Foreign Relations last month found that most of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians would prefer Israeli citizenship over being citizens of a future Palestine. Specifically, in the event of a two-state solution, 30 percent of those polled said they would prefer to be citizens of Palestine while 35 percent said they would choose Israeli citizenship. Moreover, 40 percent said that if their neighborhood was assigned to Palestine they would move to become a citizen of Israel, and 54 percent said that if their neighborhood was assigned to Israel, they would not move to Palestine.
The top reasons given for wanting to be Israeli citizens were freedom of movement, higher income, health benefits, and job opportunities. Importantly, East Jerusalem’s Palestinians are different from their brothers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Considered ‘Israeli permanent residents,’ they can vote in local elections and are eligible for the same services as Israelis, including health care, education, unemployment, and pensions.
For East Jerusalem’s Palestinians, the benefits they would receive for being citizens of Israel would outweigh the costs of their exclusion from a future Palestinian state. All of which points to the general lack of trust in the ability of their political leaders to provide for their well-being.