A Palestinian man hangs a Palestinian flag atop the ruins of a mosque, during a snow storm in West Bank village of Mufagara.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A recent poll found that more than a third of the Jewish public believes Israel should annex the West Bank without giving equal rights to the Palestinians living there. Overall, the majority – 55 percent – believe Israeli control of the West Bank should continue, either by sustaining the status quo or through annexation.
By contrast, close to three-quarters of Israeli Arabs favor Israel withdrawing from the West Bank.
The June Peace Index survey, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, sought to explore public perception of the ramifications of the Six Day War, almost 50 years later.
The survey also exposed a general ignorance on the part of the Jewish public regarding basic facts about the West Bank. Just 15% of the Jewish public is “sure” the Green Line represents the Israeli border set in the Armistice Agreements signed at the end of the War of Independence between Israel and the Arab armies in 1949. In contrast, 63% of Arabs polled knew what the Green Line is.
The Jewish public also significantly underestimates the size of the Palestinian population in the territories; only 10% answered correctly that two million to three million Palestinians live in the West Bank. In addition, most did not know the correct number of Jews living there – between 250,000 and 500,000 people.
It is not surprising then that among those polled, 52% have not visited the West Bank in the past five years.
“The Jewish public’s assessments of the current situation in the territories, and what will happen in the future, are based to a large extent on a lack of knowledge of the facts,” says IDI’s Professor Tamar Hermann, who oversees the monthly Peace Index poll.
Despite the general lack of knowledge, the Peace Index findings reveal that 52% of the Jewish public views the settlement enterprise as having contributed favorably to Israel’s national interest, although 57% believe it has worsened Israel’s diplomatic situation.
In regards to the future of the territories, 59% of Jews and 73% of Arabs would favor holding a referendum to leave the territories, should a draft of a peace agreement be reached that is acceptable to the Israeli government.
In a separate question, 49% of Israeli Jews said they felt the Turkey reconciliation deal should not have been signed without securing the release of Avera Mengistu and the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Of those polled, 49% said they supported the families’ demands, while 40% said it should not have affected signing the deal.
The poll was conducted June 28-29 on a representative sample of 600 Israelis, with a margin of error of ± 4.1%.