ofra settlement 298 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Only a small minority of settlers would leave their West Bank homes voluntarily if the government were to pay them compensation, a poll showed Friday.
Earlier this week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak endorsed a proposal to offer cash to Jewish settlers living on the "Palestinian" side of the security barrier Israel is building along and inside the West Bank. Barak reasons it could reduce forced evacuations if Israel reaches a peace accord with the Palestinians and agrees to cede West Bank land.
The route of the barrier, under construction since 2002, encloses major settlement blocs Israel hopes to retain in a final peace agreement. These blocs are home to more than two-thirds of the 270,000 Israelis who live in West Bank settlements; the other settlers live on the eastern, or "Palestinian," side of the enclosure.
Under the proposal Barak is championing, these 70,000 settlers could claim compensation and leave even before a peace agreement is signed.
Friday's poll indicated that few settlers would take up the government's offer.
Eleven percent would move if offered compensation equal to the value of their homes, the TNS Teleseker poll of 400 settlers showed. If the government were to offer double the value of their property, 17 percent would leave and 76 percent would stay, the poll said.
Nonreligious settlers - many of whom moved to the West Bank for cheap housing and not for ideological reasons - are far more willing to take compensation, the poll indicated.
Twenty-seven percent of the non-religious respondents said they would be willing to leave for 100 percent compensation, as compared with 4 percent of the religiously observant. Forty-one percent of non-observant settlers said they'd leave for 200 percent compensation, compared with 7 percent of the religious settlers polled.
The survey had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
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