66% of Israelis back e. J'lem building

Majority of Jewish public still views Obama as more supportive of Palestinians, but trust is rising.

Beitar Construction 224. (photo credit: Courtesy [file])
Beitar Construction 224.
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
More than 60 percent of Israelis endorse Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's plan for continued building to accommodate natural growth within existing settlement construction lines, according to the latest War and Peace Index. However, support for Netanyahu's policies diminishes significantly when discussing the possibility of damaging US-Israeli relations, according to Prof. Ephraim Yaar of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Tamar Herman of the Open University, who conducted the monthly survey. If Netanyahu's policies were to damage US-Israeli relations, the support for his policies would drop by 21 percentage points, according to the study. Asked to comment, political science professor Eytan Gilboa of Bar-Ilan University, who specializes in American popular attitudes toward Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, "It is obvious that [US President Barack] Obama is not interested in a confrontation with Israel on any issue, including settlements... He himself admits that his emphasis on settlements as the only condition for progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a mistake, because it led Palestinians and all of the Arab countries to believe that this is the only thing that" prevents a resolution of the conflict. However, two-thirds of Israelis oppose Obama's "one-sided" demand for Israel to stop all building in settlements, and "do not trust Obama," according to Gilboa. Certain that US-Israeli relations are stable despite Obama's settlement-freeze demand, Gilboa said there would be many attempts to prevent a confrontation and that the two sides, primarily the Obama administration, were taking steps to reduce tensions. The Index further reported that 62% of Israeli Jews recognize the existence of a Palestinian people, and that only among "voters for Shas, the Jewish Home [Habayit Hayehudi], and the National Union does the majority claim there is no such thing as a Palestinian people." Because an overwhelming 71% of Israelis believe most Palestinians do not recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, only 50% of Israelis believe the Palestinians have the right to an independent state, the survey reported. The War and Peace Index survey also reported that even if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state, Israeli willingness for territorial compromise seemed far out of reach. In fact, an overwhelming 60% of Israelis oppose a "Palestinian state that encompasses the territories conquered in 1967," even if there were "official Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people." And 56% of Israelis oppose Israel claiming responsibility caused by the 1948-1949 War of Independence and the refugee problem rooted in the war. Meanwhile, 59% of Israelis do not believe the government's current strategy to bring IDF Soldier Gilad Schalit home is effective. The War and Peace Index is funded by the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution in Tel Aviv University at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research. Conducted by the B.I. Cohen Institution of Tel Aviv University from June 30-July 1, 2009, the index surveyed some 503 participants who represent the adult population of Israel - including kibbutzim, moshavim and the territories.