An unprecedented number of Israeli Arabs would prefer to be part of Palestine rather than Israel, a poll by Haaretz revealed Thursday.
The poll found that nearly a third of Arabic-speaking Israelis, 31 percent, would prefer that their towns, villages and communities be part of the future state of Palestine once it is established.
Among youths, the percentage was even higher, with 36% of respondents aged 18 to 24 saying they would prefer to be under Palestinian sovereignty.
The poll also found that while the majority of Israeli Arabs were opposed to land swaps and population transfers within the framework of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, one-third would not object to the possibility.
Forty-two percent of respondents said they were generally in favor of land swaps, while 29% said they thought their friends would support an agreement which would leave intact some of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but would transfer sovereignty over them to the Palestinian state.
In return, Israel would retain sovereignty over some of the Arab communities currently within its borders.
Combined with the results of past polls, this latest poll indicates Israeli Arabs are now more willing to consider an agreement that would involve land or population swaps. In a poll conducted in 2005, only 21% of respondents said they would support such a plan.
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman promoted a controversial plan that would transfer jurisdiction of some Israeli Arab towns to a future Palestinian state, defending the plan by saying the towns’ residents have never wanted to part of the Jewish state.
Liberman said Sunday he would not agree to any peace agreement with the Palestinians without the exchange of the “triangle” area southeast of Haifa, which is heavily populated by Israeli Arabs, for West Bank areas populated primarily by Jews, commonly known as settlement blocs.
President Shimon Peres on Wednesday rejected the idea of a population transfer as “impractical,” adding that “Israel cannot take away its citizens’ citizenship simply because they’re Arab.”