Poll: Most Israelis opposed Gaza pullout, support a return
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Poll: Most Israelis opposed Gaza pullout, support a return

Population splits almost evenly on the question of evacuating West Bank settlements under certain conditions

A Jewish settler argues with a female soldier during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip on August 17, 2005. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)
A Jewish settler argues with a female soldier during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip on August 17, 2005. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/ Flash90)

A majority of Israelis maintain they opposed the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and over half believe Israel should resettle the territory, a poll published Monday said.

According to the survey by the Begin-Sadat Center of Strategic Studies, a think tank, 63 percent of respondents say they were against the evacuation at the time, while 51% say Israeli civilians should move back into the coastal enclave.

Nearly half of respondents (47%) also oppose evacuating West Bank Jewish settlements, while 53% support such a move under certain circumstances, such as a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Prof. Efraim Inbar, the head of the think tank, said the results indicate that many Israelis regret supporting the 2005 plan — which saw the dismantling of 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, evacuation of over 8,000 Israelis, and an end of Israeli control over the coastal enclave — and some respondents lied on the survey about their past support.

“Since we known a majority of the public in 2005 supported the disengagement, it’s very clear that some of the respondents don’t feel comfortable with their past support for the disengagement and therefore testify today that they opposed it,” Inbar said.

The majority support for territorial withdrawal in the West Bank under certain conditions, namely a peace deal, is “not surprising,” he added. “Most Israelis are willing to make territorial compromises, in particular in areas that have a large Arab population.”

That most Israelis want to resettle Gaza is, however, “surprising,” and requires further research, he said.

The survey was published ahead of a conference marking 10 years to the Gaza disengagement to take place at the Begin-Sadat Center in Bar-Ilan University in two days.

It was conducted among 587 Israelis in the second week of July.

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