More Israelis oppose West Bank annexation than support it — survey

Poll by dovish Geneva Initiative contradicts findings from another recent study, which saw a plurality of Israelis back the move

Protesters carry a placard which reads in Hebrew 'no to annexation' as they gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Protesters carry a placard which reads in Hebrew 'no to annexation' as they gather in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on June 6, 2020, to denounce Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

More Israelis oppose annexation of West Bank land than support it, and only 3.5% list it among their top priorities, according to a survey commissioned and published by the left-wing Geneva Initiative group.

The opinion poll showed that 41.7% of the public oppose annexation while 32.2% support it, the group said in a statement on Sunday, hours after thousands rallied in Tel Aviv against the proposal.

Some 48% believe such a move — planned for next month by the government in coordination with the Trump administration — would harm chances to achieve peace with the Palestinians, while just 13.8% think it would aid peace prospects.

Just 3.5% mentioned annexation when asked about their top two priorities for the country. The economy was listed by 42.4% of respondents, public health by 24.6% and security by 17.4%.

Even among backers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, only half support annexation, the survey found. The vast majority of supporters of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party oppose it.

The poll was conducted in early June among 621 respondents representing Israel’s adult population. The margin of error is 3.9%

As part of their coalition agreement, Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Gantz, who is defense minister, agreed the government can begin moving forward with applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements and the Jordan Valley after July 1, a move expected to enjoy backing from a majority of lawmakers in the current Knesset.

Much of the international community has already expressed strong opposition to the move, and the US has also recently intimated that it wants Israel to slow down.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement, promising to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Palestinians are vocal in their opposition to Trump’s plan, which gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, in what is intended to be part of a negotiated process but may go ahead unilaterally.

The step is also forcefully opposed by many Israelis, including settler leaders who joined the chorus of left-wing opposition to the proposal last week because of its eventual vision of an independent Palestinian state.

The Geneva Initiative study contradicted another poll last month, in which 44.7 percent of respondents to an Israel Democracy Institute survey said they support or strongly support annexation. The poll found 31.8% oppose annexation, and 23.5% didn’t know or didn’t answer. A slight majority of 51.7% Jewish Israeli support annexation, the poll found, while among Arab Israelis, only 8.8% were in favor.

Among Jews, 27.9% opposed annexation, and 20.4% didn’t know or didn’t answer. Among Arabs, 51.9% were opposed, and 39.4% didn’t know or didn’t answer. Support for annexation among Jews was unsurprisingly divided on political lines, with 71% of self-defined right-wing Jews backing it, along with 31% of centrists and only 8% of left-wingers, according to the IDI poll.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed