Most Israeli Jews would oppose a peace agreement with the Palestinians if it included a full West Bank pullout with land swaps to let Israel retain major settlement population centers, according to a new poll that appears to contradict the conclusions of other recent surveys.
The poll, released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, found that 63 percent of Jews in Israel oppose a withdrawal to the 1967 lines with land swaps as part of any peace arrangement with the Palestinian Authority, even if it meant Israel would hold onto the Etzion Bloc, directly south of Jerusalem; Ma’aleh Adumim, east of the capital; and Ariel in the central West Bank about 34 kilometers (21 miles) east of Tel Aviv.
Assuming Israeli retention of Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and other settlement blocs, 58% of Jewish respondents were opposed to the dismantling of other settlements.
The poll was conducted among 602 respondents in late July, after the announcement of new peace talks with the Palestinians, and has a statistical error of 4.5%.
According to the survey, 50% of Jewish Israelis also oppose the transfer of Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to Palestinian Authority control with a special arrangement for Jewish holy sites.
Israeli Arabs are more optimistic than their Jewish counterparts regarding the prospects of newly resumed negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Seventy-nine percent of Israeli Jews believe talks have a low chance of success, as opposed to 18% who believe that the chances are high. Only 41% of the Arab Israelis surveyed said the talks had a low chance of success, while 47% said they had a good chance at success.
Despite the overall pessimism among Jewish respondents, 61% said that they were in favor of the peace talks, as opposed to 33% who said they were opposed. Ninety-one percent of the Arab citizens polled said they supported the negotiations. Only 6% opposed them.
Seventy-seven percent of Israeli Jews would oppose any agreement that recognized in principle a right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, with a small number being allowed to come and live in Israel, and compensation for the rest.
Sixty-two percent of Israeli Jews and 72% of Israeli Arabs agree that a national referendum is needed to approve any peace settlement that involves evacuating settlements and withdrawal from the West Bank. Notably, 49% of Israeli Jews said that the national referendum should not include the country’s Arab citizens, as opposed to 46% who think all Israelis should have a say. In the Arab sector, the response to the question was 4% and 88%, respectively.
The majority of both Jews and Arabs surveyed — 63% of Jews and 58% of Arabs — said the Netanyahu government was sincere in its desire for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. However, only 29% of Jews felt that the same could be said for the PA negotiators, while 85% of the Arabs said the PA was sincere in its return to the negotiating table.
Asked if they believed that the prime minister could safeguard Israel’s security while negotiating with the PA, 60% of the Jews surveyed answered in the affirmative, as opposed to 37% who said they didn’t trust him. Among Israeli Arabs, 32% said that they trusted the prime minister in this regard, while 64% did not.
Regarding political parties either shoring up or blocking the current round of negotiations, 51% of Israeli Jews polled — including 49% of those who voted for the hardline Jewish Home party — said that they would not support the party bolting the coalition in protest over the negotiations.
Conversely, 48% of Jewish Israelis and 71% of Israeli Arabs said that they would like to see the more dovish Labor Party, led by opposition chair Shelly Yachimovich, join the coalition in order to support the peace process from within the government. Yachimovich has reiterated that her party would serve as a bulwark for the Netanyahu’s coalition in the event that its hardline partners jump ship over the diplomatic process.