According to one recent poll, 67 percent of Israeli voters support a peace deal with the Palestinians. Even on the right, a majority said they back the prospect of two states for two people, with 57 percent of Likud supporters backing such a deal and 53 percent of those likely to vote for Bennett’s Jewish Home Party also favoring the two-state solution.
Still, as much as Israelis want peace with the Arabs, they are skeptical of that happening anytime soon. Israeli voters are as rational as voters in any liberal democracy—and in this case, Israel is a liberal democracy that has come under repeated attacks from its neighbors.
The popular belief that Israeli public opinion is moving radically to the right “is profoundly untrue,” said Dan Schueftan, a visiting professor at Georgetown who advised Israeli prime ministers from Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon. Instead, they’ve adopted the central paradigms of both the left and the right. “Most Israelis are very pessimistic about reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, and the Arabs in general. This is a core paradigm of the right,” Schueftan told me. “And yet a majority is willing to reach a compromise that would partition the land into two states for two people. This is a core paradigm of the left. They’re not saying we don’t want peace, but that even if they make concessions they don’t think it will lead to peace.”
Israelis haven’t abandoned the dream of peace; they’ve faced reality and are refusing to continue to pay lip service to an illusion.