In Israel, most Jews don’t see West Bank rule as ‘occupation,’ most Arabs do
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52% see Jewish majority in state as more important than sovereignty over all of the historical land

In Israel, most Jews don’t see West Bank rule as ‘occupation,’ most Arabs do

New survey reveals rifts between Jewish, gentile citizens; most people fear they’ll be hurt in terror attack, albeit fewer than before

Members of the right-wing "Women in Green" movement hold 33-hour vigil near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, demanding Israeli sovereignty and the defeat of Arab terror, on February 28, 2016.  (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Members of the right-wing "Women in Green" movement hold 33-hour vigil near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, demanding Israeli sovereignty and the defeat of Arab terror, on February 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

More than two-thirds of Jewish Israelis — 71.5 percent — do not consider Israel’s control of the West Bank an “occupation,” according to a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute think-tank released Monday.

The exact same percentage — 71.5% — of Arab respondents to the survey said the opposite, according to the May edition of the monthly Peace Index survey.

The Jewish Israelis either said they are either “sure” or “think” it isn’t occupation, the think-tank said in its statement about the poll, which surveyed both Jewish and Arab residents of Israel.

Over a two-day period earlier this month, researchers from IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research and Tel Aviv University’s Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution spoke with 600 Israeli adults about “Israeli-Palestinian relations, the effectiveness of the government and its leaders almost one year since the current cabinet was formed on May 14, 2015, and on the Israeli public’s preferences regarding the next US president,” IDI said in a statement Monday.

The Jewish Israelis surveyed said they would prefer that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state to having a peace deal with them, according to the IDI survey.

Almost half — 48 percent — of Jewish Israelis said recognition of the country as Jewish by Palestinians was more important, while less than a third — 27 percent — said peace was the worthier goal. Some 16% said the two were on par with one another.

Fifty-two percent of respondents answered that it was more important to have a Jewish majority in the State of Israel than sovereignty over all of the historical land of Israel, with 22% responding that sovereignty is more important.

Those surveyed were split on the efficacy of the current government, with 49% saying the country was “good” at providing security to its residents, with the same number saying it was “not good.”

Firefighters and rescue personnel at the scene of a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem, in which 20 people were wounded, on April 18, 2016, (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Firefighters and rescue personnel at the scene of a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem, in which 20 people were wounded, on April 18, 2016, (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Asked, “To what extent do you fear that you or one of the people important to you will be harmed in the current wave of terror attacks?” 64% of Jewish respondents said they greatly or moderately fear it, a 5% decline from last month, when the same question was posited.

But less than a third thought the government was performing well in the arena of foreign relations, with just 31% of the respondents giving the current coalition a positive review.

Opinions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government split along ethnic lines, to a certain extent, the poll found. Neither group, however, have the government a high score.

“One a scale from 0 (poor) to 10 (excellent), the Jewish public gives the government a 5.1. The Arab public gives a 4.6,” IDI said.

US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he arrives to speak during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB
US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he arrives to speak during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB

On the US presidential candidates, 62% of the Jewish respondents agreed that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, will be “committed to safeguarding Israel’s security.”

They were mostly split on this question about Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner: “To what extent do you trust her that, if elected US president, she will block any attempt to attack or isolate Israel?” Some 48% answered positively and 45% negatively, making it a statistical dead heat taking into consideration the 4.1% margin of error.

However, the survey also found that 40% of Jewish respondents think it would be better for Israel if Clinton were elected, while 31 percent preferred Trump. Some 17.5% did not answer the question.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office, Jerusalem, January 17, 2016. (Amit Shabi/Pool)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office, Jerusalem, January 17, 2016. (Amit Shabi/Pool)

Israeli politicians fared relatively poorly in the poll. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon had the highest rating, with 48% considering his performance “good.” Netanyahu, meanwhile, scored 40%.

Only 15% of respondents said opposition leader Isaac Herzog was doing a good job, and even within his own Zionist Union party, only 29% gave him a positive performance review, the poll found.

Non-elected officials were judged more positively. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said IDFChief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was performing “moderately” or “very” well, and nearly 60% said the same of Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh.

JTA contributed to this report.

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