A soldier stands next to a bus stop with a pro-Trump poster near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Half of Jewish Israelis believe that unilaterally annexing Judea and Samaria would cause problems for the State of Israel, although a significant majority is nevertheless in favor of continued settlement construction by the state.
The polling date issued in the Israel Democracy Institute’s Monthly Peace Index comes against the background of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning settlement activity, along with subsequent declarations by senior government ministers and MKs that Israel should begin steps to annex major settlement blocs and eventually all of Area C of the West Bank.
According to the poll, which was conducted between January 2 and 3, some 62% of Jewish Israelis believe that Israel should not cease construction of settlements and homes in the West Bank following the UN resolution, compared to just 29% who said it should.
Forty-five percent said they believe that US President Barack Obama’s decision to abstain on the UN resolution, and thereby let it pass, stemmed mainly from the poor relations between himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, compared to 33% who said the decision stemmed from Obama’s principled position on the issue.
At the same time, just 29% of Jewish Israelis said they believed the UN Security Council vote was taken due to a principled position on the issue of settlements in keeping with international law, compared to 53% who said the decision stemmed from hostility toward Israel.
However, despite support for continued settlement construction, a significant number of respondents, some 51%, said that a unilateral annexation of Judea and Samaria would be a disaster, as argued by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi of the Likud Party several days ago.
Watch the UN debate: Are West Bank settlements a stumbling block to peace?
Another 31% said they disagreed with Hanegbi’s comments, while 18% said they did not know.
Hanegbi’s comments came in response to a declaration by Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett that he would advance a law to annex Ma’aleh Adumim after President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, as the first step of a broader plan to annex all of Area C of the West Bank.
Sixty-nine percent of Jewish Israelis said they believe Trump’s attitude toward Israel would be either moderately or very friendly, 12% said he would be neutral and just 3% said he would be unfriendly, while 50% said they believed he would uphold his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
More than 70% of respondents said they believe Israel would be able to keep building in the settlements during Trump’s administration.
The index also measured public opinion on the military trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter this week after shooting a Palestinian terrorist who was lying prostrate on the ground in the head.
A significant majority of the Jewish public believes that the trial was unfair, and an even larger majority believes that putting him on trial itself was unjustified.
According to the poll, which was conducted before the verdict was handed down this week, 57% of Jewish Israelis believe that Azaria’s trial was conducted unfairly, compared to 30% who said it had been fair and 13% who said they did not know.
Furthermore, 60% of Jewish Israelis said Azaria should never have been tried at all, compared to 34% who said his trial was justified.
The survey was conducted using information gleaned from 600 respondents aged 18 and over with a margin of error of 4.1%.