Despite the enthusiasm of politicians on the Right for increased Israeli control over Judea and Samaria following the election of US President Donald Trump, a significant majority of Jewish citizens are against annexing large parts of these territories, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has found.
It also found that a majority of Jewish citizens are also against increased settlement construction in Judea and Samaria, another policy that right-wing politicians say they will be advancing in light of the new US administration.
Despite this, a large majority of Jewish Israelis hold that if the territories are annexed, Palestinians living there should not be given full civil rights, such as the right to vote.
The poll, conducted by telephone by the Midgam Research Institute on a sample of 500 Jews and 100 Arabs, found that 50 percent of Jews think it unwise to expand settlement construction at present, compared to 45% who say construction should be increased.
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Some 53% of Israeli Jews also said they were against annexing large parts of the West Bank, compared to 37% who said they favor such actions. But affording full civil rights to Palestinians living in any areas which are annexed is something a significant majority of Israelis would oppose.
According to the poll, just 25% of Israeli Jews said Palestinians should be given citizenship, while fully 61% said that they should either be given residency status, without the right to vote, or not afforded any more rights than they have at present.
Prof. Tamar Hermann, co-editor of the IDI’s monthly Peace Index, said that despite the implications such a policy would have in creating a state with two classes of citizens, the results indicate that many Israelis would not be troubled by such a situation.
“Large sections of Jewish Israeli society do not see this as racism,” Hermann said. “Many people believe that this is a Jewish state and we should do everything to control the land, whether for religious or security purposes, and that we cannot allow Arabs to get equal civil rights, because we should keep the land in the hands of the Jewish majority.”
Somewhat surprisingly, of those defining themselves to be on the “moderate Left” of the political spectrum, only 50% said Palestinians in annexed areas should be given full civil rights, while 26% said they did not know or declined to answer. Fully 64% of those defining themselves as “Left” said such people should be given full civil rights.
Other results of the poll found that the public trust of Jewish Israelis in the police remains substantial, with 58% saying that they accept the police’s claim that the Beduin teacher Yacoub al-Kiyan was shot by officers because he tried to carry out a ramming attack that caused the death of the officer Erez Levi during the evacuation of the unrecognized Beduin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev.
However, a huge majority, some 80%, of the Arab public, however, does not believe the police’s version.
Regarding the police’s handling of the various investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 60% of the Jewish public believe that the police are conducting the investigations professionally and objectively, while 27% said they think the investigations are not being conducted in such a manner.
Against the background of Netanyahu’s claims that the Left is heavily pressuring the attorney- general with the aim of undemocratically ousting the Likud government, 60% of the Jewish public said it trusts the attorney-general to do his work faithfully, while 33% said they do not trust him.
Fully 52% of the Jewish public are also of the view that if an indictment is served against Netanyahu, he should resign immediately, even though the letter of the law states that the prime minister must resign only if he is convicted and a subsequent appeal is rejected. Forty-three percent said the prime minister should remain in his post as long as the law allows.
The IDI poll also revealed a startling lack of trust in the Israeli media, with only 15% of the Jewish public and 18% of the Arab public expressing trust in the information provided by print media; while information from television is trusted by 29% of the Jewish public and 17% of the Arab public; and information coming from the social networks is trusted by only 19% of the Jewish public and 14% of the Arab public.
Separate research conducted by the Berel Katznelson Foundation showed a significant rise in expressions of hatred in Hebrew on social media toward settlers and those on the right wing of Israeli politics.
According to the foundation’s “Hatred Document” conducted together with the Vigo company, hatred toward settlers and rightwing Israelis increased by 50% in January against the background of the evacuation of the Amona settlement outpost and the violent protests against it.
However, the majority of hate speech on social networks is still directed against Arabs and the Left. Some 40% of hate speech on social media is directed towards Arabs, 15% to left-wingers, 7% against settlers, 5% against right-wingers, 9% against haredim, 8% against LGBTs and 6% against Israelis of Sephardi heritage.
“Every political event increases the level of polarization and [verbal] violence among the different groups of Israeli society,” said Anat Rozalin, director of the public arm of the Berel Katznelson Foundation. “While we were once witness to empathy toward victims, today the automatic feeling is hatred of the other.”