More Israelis Would Compromise, But Fewer With PLO
JERUSALEM — THE Palestinian uprising has made Israelis more hawkish in their views, but also more willing to compromise on such long-term issues as swapping land to achieve peace with Palestinians, according to an Israeli opinion study released this week. ``The intifadah had an impact on Israeli public opinion'' over the 10-month survey period. ``Israelis said so quite clearly,'' says the survey released by Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies.
The survey was unusual in that it polled the same 416 Israelis in December 1987, just after the uprising began, and in October 1988, thus minimizing sampling error.
According to the survey, the persistent low-level violence of the uprising, highlighted by intensive daily news coverage, has forced Israelis to confront issues they were able to ignore during the first 20 years of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
One result: Israelis are now more ``realistic.'' For example, fewer now believe that policies should be adopted to force Arabs out of the territories.
But on balance the intifadah, now 20 months old, appears to have hardened Israeli attitudes, partly reflecting a ``rally 'round the flag'' effect.
One indication is that support among the sample group for negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) dropped from 37 percent in 1987 to 32 percent in 1988. (The findings are at variance with other Israeli polls which have shown gradual acceptance of the idea since the PL0 recognized Israel and renounced terrorism late last year.)
In a more dramatic shift, 71 percent more of the Israelis sampled favored security interests over the rule of law. There was also a drop in support for an international peace conference from 45 to 37 percent, according to the report, entitled ``Public Opinion in Israeli and the Intifada: Changes in Security Attitudes 1987-88.''
Hardening Israeli attitudes are one reason for the electoral shift, recorded in last November's parliamentary elections, toward the more hawkish views of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's Likud Party.
Even so, on some long-term issues Israelis are proving more pragmatic. The survey suggests that a growing percentage of Israelis are now willing to trade land for peace and to consider an eventual Palestinian state, though in both cases proponents remain a minority.
Israelis ``want law and order more strongly than before, but they also tend more than before to accept the notion of a negotiated political solution,'' the report says.
More of the Israelis polled now regard themselves as ``hawks'' (up from 33.3 percent to 41.4 percent) than ``doves'' (down from 32.5 percent to 31.3 percent).
Overall, the report concludes, the uprising hardened existing opinions. Israelis are more polarized between the ``conciliatory left'' and the ``hard-line right.''