ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Almost 4 in 10 Israelis back a revival of Jewish settlements in Gaza, poll finds

As war with Hamas rages on, survey shows Gantz increasing his lead over Netanyahu as preferred prime minister, and the Netanyahu-led bloc losing power were elections held today

Settlement activists at a conference in Jerusalem to promote the construction of Jewish settlements in Gaza go up on stage in dedicated groups that seek to establish six new settlements in the coastal enclave, January 28, 2024. (Courtesy the Nachala Settlement Movement)
Settlement activists at a conference in Jerusalem to promote the construction of Jewish settlements in Gaza go up on stage in dedicated groups that seek to establish six new settlements in the coastal enclave, January 28, 2024. (Courtesy the Nachala Settlement Movement)

Thirty-eight percent of Israelis are in favor of reestablishing settlements in the Gaza Strip, according to a Tuesday television poll.

Channel 12 news asked respondents whether they were in favor of resettling Gaza two days after thousands of settlement activists gathered in Jerusalem to advance plans for such a move, at a conference attended by 11 coalition ministers and 15 coalition MKs.

Fifty-one percent were opposed to reviving the settlements in Gaza, where some 8,000 people lived before Israel unilaterally withdrew from the strip in 2005.

The poll also asked respondents whether they would support a deal that saw Hamas return 35 hostages to Israel in exchange for a 45-day pause in fighting and thousands of freed Palestinian terrorists. Fifty percent said they would oppose such a deal, 35% would back it, and the rest were unsure. (It is not clear that a potential deal taking shape in ongoing negotiations mirrors the terms that were put to respondents.)

Also regarding the hostages, Channel 12 asked whether Israelis support halting humanitarian aid to Gaza until Hamas returns all the hostages it is holding. An overwhelming 72% said yes, while 21% said the aid should continue. Earlier this week, the IDF declared the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza a closed military zone after some relatives of hostages and other activists repeatedly demonstrated there and blocked aid from getting through.

An Egyptian truck carrying humanitarian aid undergoes security checks at the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing before entering the southern Gaza Strip, on January 22, 2024. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Respondents were asked whether and when Israel needed a state commission of inquiry into the failures surrounding the Hamas-led October 7 attack, in which the terrorist organization slaughtered 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, and took 253 hostages.

Sixty-one percent believed the inquiry should wait until after the war, while 32% called for it to happen immediately. The rest did not think a state inquiry was necessary.

Meanwhile, the poll revealed that public support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to slip in recent weeks.

According to the poll, if new elections were held today, Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party would be the largest with 37 seats, followed by Netanyahu’s Likud with 18. Yesh Atid follows at 14 seats, Shas 10, Yisrael Beytenu eight, Otzma Yehudit eight, United Torah Judaism seven, Hadash-Ta’al five, Ra’am five, Religious Zionism four and Meretz four.

Neither Labor or Balad clear the minimum vote threshold in the poll.

Minister Benny Gantz, right, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 25, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Overall, the anti-Netanyahu bloc would have 68 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, and Likud and its allies would have 47. Hadash-Ta’al is not aligned with either bloc.

Pairing prime ministerial candidates head-to-head, the survey also asked who is better suited for the premiership. In a Gantz versus Netanyahu matchup, 41% back the former, while 23% back the latter. In a poll released by the network earlier this month, those figures were 42% and 29% respectively.

When faced off against National Unity MK Gadi Eisenkot, an observer in the war cabinet, 24% said Netanyahu was better suited to be prime minister and 36% said Eisenkot.

Though trailing Gantz and Eisenkot, Netanyahu remained a more popular choice for premier than opposition leader Yair Lapid, with 29% saying the current prime minister was more fit for the job as opposed to 27% saying Lapid was.

The poll was taken on Tuesday by Midgam/Mano Geva among 503 representative respondents with a 4.4% margin of error.

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