Photo Credit: Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS
Arabs in the Old City of Jerusalem

The majority of Jerusalem’s Arabs would prefer to become Israeli citizens rather than live under the Palestinian Authority if required to choose, a new poll shows.

A June 2022 survey of the nearly 400,000 Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem, commissioned by the Washington Institute and conducted by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, found that half (48%) of the city’s Arabs residents say that they would prefer to become citizens of Israel, rather than of a Palestinian state.


Most Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem have Jerusalem residency status and not Israeli citizenship. The path to Israeli citizenship is open to them, if they choose to take it. But most don’t for political reasons.

Jerusalem residency status provides them full Israeli social welfare benefits and the right to vote in local, but not national, elections. But they must live in Jerusalem to not lose their status.

From 2017 to early 2020, that figure hovered around just 20%. After a drastic shift in opinions, only a minority (43%) of east Jerusalemites say they would pick Palestine. Only a small minority of 9% would opt for Jordanian citizenship.

Similarly, 63% of Arabs in eastern Jerusalem agree at least “somewhat” that “it would be better for us if we were part of Israel, rather than in Palestinian Authority or Hamas ruled lands.”

“These striking findings represent a reversion to the pragmatic East Jerusalem attitudes last registered in 2014. The current more conciliatory mood probably reflects their recent experience of access to Israeli health care, social welfare benefits, ability to travel both inside and outside Israel, and jobs during the past two years of Coronavirus issues,” David Pollock, of the Washington Institute, explained.

In this venue, 62% agreed that “the Palestinians should focus on practical matters like jobs, health care, education, and everyday stability, not on big political plans or resistance options.” The same number also agreed that “right now, the Palestinians need to pay much more attention to countering extremist Islamic trends in our own society.”  A solid majority of 65% say that “the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is mostly just for politicians or old people, and I just don’t think about it very much.”

Sixty-one percent disagree that “the Palestinians should move to a new Intifada,” and even more, 68%, say that attacks on any Israeli civilians, including settlers, are “bad.”

Around half of eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs expressed hope that “someday we can be friends with Israelis since we are all human beings after all.”

The analysis was based on a face-to-face survey, conducted June 6-21, with a random sample of 300 Arabs adults. The statistical margin of error is 6%, at the 95% confidence level.


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