The Peace Index published regularly over the years by Tel Aviv University released its latest survey (summary of the results is here) of Israeli opinion on issues concerning relations with Israeli Palestinians and Palestinians under Occupation. The poll found strong support for annexation of the West Bank and denial of rights to its Palestinian residents. It also indicated that a plurality of Jews believed (mystifyingly) Israel should continue the Occupation even if there were a draft peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Index also showed a questionable commitment by Israeli Jews to democratic values when it concerns the Palestinian minority.
A slight plurality of Jews (44-43%) believe the Occupation has improved Israel’s security situation. 52% of Jews believe it has “contributed to Israel’s national interest.” 57% of both Jews and Palestinians believe it has worsened Israel’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. I’m not sure where the other 43% are living–in a cocoon or perhaps they don’t give a damn how Israel is perceived by the world.
A plurality (39%) of Israeli Jews do not believe that the Green Line represents Israel’s border, while 33% believe that it is. This confusion is completely understandable given the government’s deliberate attempt to sabotage through massive settlements and Occupation of the Syrian Golan and the West Bank, the notion that the Green Line is Israel’s border.
The pollsters asked Israeli Jews how many Jews lived in the West Bank. Interestingly and tellingly, the pollsters did not include East Jerusalem settlements, which it euphemistically called “expanded Jerusalem.” But the answer it deemed correct ranged from 250,000-500,000. There are roughly 500,000 Jews living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. So it seems those who prepared the poll were fudging on this issue. But claiming to omit East Jerusalem from Jewish settlements indicates a bias on the part of those preparing the Peace Index which raises questions about the credibility of this portion of the survey. One-fourth of those surveyed underestimated the number of Jews by half saying there were 100,000-250,000. 16% overestimated the population and nearly one-fourth had no idea of the answer.
Over 50% of Jews said they had not visited the West Bank in the past five years. Given such a figure, one wonders why any of them care about maintaining Israel’s grip there.
Jewish respondents were asked if a national referendum were held today about maintaining the Occupation or ending it, 52% would favor continuing it. Even if there were a draft peace treaty with the Palestinians, a 46% plurality would reject ending the Occupation. This makes one wonder on what basis these Israelis believe there could be any peace agreement. Only 51% of Israeli Jews believe Israeli Palestinian citizens should be entitled to vote in such a referendum. 44% believe they should not. In other words, a bare majority of Israeli Jews believe in according Palestinian citizens rights equal to theirs.
Nearly 40% of Israeli Jews predict the Occupation will “continue as it is.” 20% believe the international community will force Israel to end the Occupation. This is a very interesting figure and quite significant. The same percentage believe Israel will annex the Territories and deny Palestinians there their rights.
As for what the Jewish public prefers personally as the outcome: 23% believe it should remain as it is; 12% prefer the international community should intervene to compel Israel to end the Occupation; 32% prefer Israel annex the Territories and deny Palestinian residents there equal rights; 19% prefer annexation and granting non-Jewish inhabitants equal rights. Interestingly, only 26% of Israeli Palestinians prefer a one-state solution offering equal rights to Jews and Palestinians. Personally, I believe that a Jewish survey administered by a Jewish university and pollsters would very likely underreport the number of Israeli Palestinians supporting one-state. Perhaps not deliberately. But relatively few Israeli Jews support one state, therefore it’s easy to believe a bias crept into the survey results on this question.
This article was published at Tikun Olam