A Roy Morgan Poll released this week revealed that the Australian public is much more sympathetic toward the Palestinians than the Turnbull government.
An overwhelming majority of survey participants expressed support for the recognition of Palestinian statehood: 73% (up from 62% in 2011), while a majority (55%) indicated that they regarded the Palestinians’ call for “a boycott of Israeli goods, services, companies and institutions profiting from the occupation of Palestine” as reasonable. Only 8% opposed recognition of Palestinian statehood, while 25% described the call for a boycott as unreasonable.
61% of those surveyed opposed the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and 53% said that they opposed the Turnbull government’s rejection of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed the UN’s opposition to settlements and called upon Israel to halt settlement activities in the Occupied Territories. Only 17% of those surveyed indicated support for Israeli settlements, while 29% supported the government’s rejection of UNSC Resolution 2334.
Despite extensive media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, only 44% of poll participants indicated that they knew either “a lot” or “a fair amount” about the issue.
“Australians might not feel particularly well-informed about the conflict but they’re not stupid,” noted Bishop George Browning, the President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. “They understand that colonising someone else’s country is always wrong. They support the United Nations in its opposition to Israeli settlements. They also understand that recognising Palestinian statehood and boycotting institutions that profit from the Occupation are both reasonable and non-violent means of promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
Apart from Israel, Australia was the only country to reject UNSC Resolution 2334, which was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on 23 December 2016 (with the United States abstaining). The Turnbull government opposes recognising Palestinian statehood. The Greens support recognition. Labor has indicated that it might recognise Palestine if there is no progress in the peace process. Although individual parliamentarians have expressed support for a boycott of Israeli institutions profiting from the Occupation, no Australian political party supports a boycott.
“The poll indicates that the Australian public is way out in front of the major parties on the issue of Palestine,” noted Browning. “In this regard, politicians need to listen more to their constituents and less to Australia’s Israel lobby in formulating policy.”
34% of those surveyed expressed greater sympathy for the Palestinians, while 26% indicated greater sympathy for Israelis. Only those aged 65 years and older were more sympathetic towards Israelis (37%) than Palestinians (32%). Sympathy for the Palestinians was particularly strong among those with a tertiary education, standing at 41%, as opposed to 23% who indicated a greater sympathy for Israelis.
The poll was commissioned by the following Palestine advocacy organisations:
- The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network,
- The Australian Friends of Palestine Association,
- Australians for Palestine,
- The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine,
- Friends of Bethlehem.