Following recent violence in the West Bank, some experts on the Israel-Palestine conflict have expressed concern that the prospects for a two-state solution are fading. And a growing share of Israelis seem to share that view, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Pew Research Center has a history of measuring perceived divisions within society in countries around the world. In 2023, we asked Israelis some questions about the possibility that Israel could coexist peacefully with an independent Palestinian state – a prospect widely known as “the two-state solution” – and about Muslims’ experiences with discrimination.
The survey was conducted face-to-face from March 15 to April 24, 2023, among 1,001 adults. Interviews were conducted in Hebrew and Arabic, and the survey is representative of the adult population ages 18 and older, excluding those in East Jerusalem and non-sanctioned outposts. (The survey also does not include the West Bank or Gaza.) The survey is weighted to be representative of the Israeli adult population with the following variables: gender by ethnicity, age by ethnicity, education, region, urbanicity, and probability of selection of respondent.
Figures on experiences of discrimination among Muslims in Israel reported here for 2014-15 differ slightly from previously published numbers. Since the 2023 survey did not include interviews with respondents in the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem, we reanalyzed the 2014-15 data to exclude survey respondents in these areas. The percentages of Muslims who experienced various forms of discrimination in the 2014-15 survey is lower when these areas are excluded.
Supporters of the governing party in this analysis are people who report that the political party they are closest to is one of those currently governing in coalition.
We also asked Jewish respondents to self-identify as one of four categories: Haredi (commonly translated as “ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) or Hiloni (“secular”). Because of small sample sizes, we combined Haredim and Datiim in this analysis.
The spectrum of religious observance in Israel – on which Haredim are generally the most religious and Hilonim the least – does not always line up perfectly with Israel’s political spectrum. For more information on the different views of these religious groups, read the Center’s 2016 deep dive on the topic, “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society.”
Only 35% of Israelis think “a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully,” according to the survey, which was conducted in March and April, prior to the latest violence in the West Bank. That represents a decline of 9 percentage points since 2017 and 15 points since 2013.
The feeling that peaceful coexistence is possible has decreased over the past decade among both Arabs and Jews living in Israel.
Still, views among Arab Israelis have shifted significantly more than they have among Jewish Israelis. Arab Israelis are now 33 points less likely than they were in 2013 to see the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between Israel and an independent Palestinian state. Jewish Israelis are 14 points less likely to see this possibility than in 2013.
Among the major subgroups of Jews in Israel, those who are Masorti (“traditional”) and those who are Haredi/Dati (“ultra-Orthodox” and “religious,” respectively) have grown less confident in recent years that peaceful coexistence is possible. The share of Masorti Jews who see the possibility of a peaceful coexistence has declined from 33% in 2017 to 17% this year. Among Haredi/Dati Jews, the share who see this possibility has fallen from 22% to 7%. (Because of small sample sizes, we combined Haredim and Datiim in this analysis.)
By contrast, Hiloni or “secular” Jews now express more optimism about the prospects for a two-state solution than they did in 2017 (61% today vs. 54% then).
The views of Israelis on the political left and in the center have not changed substantially since 2017. But those on the political right are considerably less likely than they were in 2017 to see the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian state (14% today vs. 27% in 2017).
Stark divides over whether a peaceful coexistence is possible
While Israelis broadly lack confidence in a peaceful coexistence between Israel and an independent Palestinian state, opinions vary widely across Israeli groups. For example, those who do not support Israel’s current governing coalition are much more likely than those who support the governing coalition to believe a way can be found to coexist peacefully (54% vs. 10%).
There are also large divides along ideological lines: 73% of Israelis on the political left say a way can be found for two states to coexist, compared with 53% of those in the center and 14% of those on the right.
Arab Israelis are somewhat more likely than Jewish Israelis to express optimism in the possibility of a peaceful coexistence with an independent Palestinian state (41% vs. 32%).
There are strong divisions between Jewish groups: 61% of Hiloni Jews say a peaceful coexistence is possible, while just 17% of Masorti Jews and 7% of Haredi/Dati Jews say the same.
Discrimination toward Israeli Muslims
The survey – which excluded people living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – also asked Muslims in Israel whether they have had recent interactions with security forces or experienced various kinds of discrimination.
Overall, 13% of Muslims in Israel say that in the last 12 months they have been stopped and questioned by security forces, while 8% say they have been physically threatened or attacked because they are Muslim. Fewer report having been prevented from traveling (4%) or having suffered damage to their home or property (4%) because they are Muslim.
Altogether, 20% of Muslims report having had at least one of these experiences in the past 12 months – down from 30% when we asked the same questions in our 2014-15 survey about religion in Israel. Muslims are also less likely today than in 2014-15 to say they’ve had a Jewish person express concern or sympathy for them (13% vs. 25%).
In the new survey, Muslim men in Israel are much more likely than Muslim women to say they have recently experienced at least one of these types of discrimination (32% vs. 9%).