A full 55 percent of Israelis are likely to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he were to submit a peace agreement with the Palestinians to a public referendum, according to a poll whose results were released Wednesday.
The Haaretz survey found that while 20% of Israelis were sure that they would vote against a peace deal, and 5% said they probably would vote against it, 39% said they would support in a referendum put forward by Netanyahu and a further 16% said they would probably support it. Another 20% said they were undecided on the issue.
The poll was conducted among a sampling of over 500 citizens by the Dialog Institute.
Last Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a new framework for renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Several days later, Netanyahu announced that he would put any peace deal to a public referendum.
Although both sides have offered contradictory statements about pre-negotiation agreements, promises and views of a final status agreement, the discussions are expected to go ahead.
Netanyahu told reporters in the Knesset on Monday evening that he’s “been saying for years that any diplomatic solution, if one is achieved, must be brought to a referendum.”
“A national referendum prevents national division,” he added. “Peace with our neighbors requires peace among ourselves, and that’s achieved through a referendum.”
In 2010, Israel passed a law requiring a public referendum if the government wished to give up territory over which Israel has claimed sovereignty, which includes East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and theoretically other areas that Israel might wish to transfer to the Palestinians as part of a land swap.
A group of MKs, spearheaded by Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, is seeking to alter the Basic Law so that any peace deal with the Palestinians would require a public referendum, not just if it involved giving up land in East Jerusalem or the Golan.
Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report.