Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Missing the Point

The Associated Press distributed the story below about the results of a poll about the prospects for peace. The reporting was relatively straightforward, but the poll itself was biased. The bias itself made the results more interesting if one pays careful attention.

The question of interest is the last one mentioned, regarding support for a peace agreement among Arabs and Israelis.

Superficially, the results make it appear Israelis are only slightly more supportive of a peace agreement than the Palestinian Arabs, with 53 percent of Israelis supporting a peace agreement as compared to nearly as high a proportion, 47 percent, of Palestinian Arabs supporting an agreement.

As is often the case, the devil is in the details. In this case, the hypothetical agreement being asked about was one heavily biased towards the Palestinian Arabs; indeed, one which would give far more to the Palestinian Arabs than they could ever reasonably expect.

The hypothetical agreement called for Israel to capitulate to all Arab demands, giving up territory equivalent to the entirety of the disputed areas along with significant portions of its capital, including most of the Old City.

Yet, when presented with a hypothetical agreement meeting all of their outrageous demands, a majority of Palestinian Arabs rejected it!

Meanwhile, a majority of Israelis, when presented with the worst possible proposal short of the immediate destruction of Israel, accepted it!

The clear inference: Israelis are desperate for peace, while the Palestinian Arabs reject peace under any circumstances.

That is the clear message from the poll and it's totally absent from the analysis in the Associated Press article!

No Optimism For Peace In Mideast

JERUSALEM - Israelis and Palestinians responding to a survey believe a recent U.S.-sponsored peace conference was a failure and think their leaders won't manage to sign a peace deal in the next year, according to results released Tuesday.

Israelis were more pessimistic, with 74 percent saying the peace summit last month in Annapolis, Md., was a failure compared with 59 percent of Palestinians, according to the poll. The Annapolis conference officially relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a violent seven-year freeze. At the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

But only 23 percent of Palestinians and 8 percent of Israelis think that's possible, the poll showed.

More than half of Israelis - 55 percent - believe that violence will not stop, along with 32 per cent of Palestinians, it found.

The poll of 1,270 Palestinians and 564 Israelis was carried out jointly by the Truman Center at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Palestinians and Israelis are also split down the middle on a final peace deal.

Pollsters asked respondents if they supported an agreement that would see a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, territorial exchanges between the sides, a compromise on Jerusalem that would see Israel rule Jewish areas and Palestinians rule Arab areas, and a resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state and abroad but not in Israel.

A slim majority of Israelis - 53 percent - said they would support such a deal, roughly the same as last year but down from 64 percent two years ago. Forty seven percent of Palestinians said they would support it, compared to 48 percent last year.

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