Poll shows slim majority of settlers back Trump plan, despite hostility at top

Settler leadership remains split, with some prominent mayors coming out against US proposal that would okay annexation while paving way for option of Palestinian statehood

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A sign that reads "there is no half sovereignty," displayed in the northern West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron on June 4, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
A sign that reads "there is no half sovereignty," displayed in the northern West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron on June 4, 2020. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

A poll published Tuesday indicated that a slight majority of Israeli settlers support the Trump peace plan, which envisions Israel annexing all settlements and the Jordan Valley while the remaining territory is conditionally earmarked for a future Palestinian state.

Of the 1,182 settlement residents surveyed by Direct Polls, 56.8% said they either support (23.4%) or lean toward supporting (33.4%) the Trump plan, while 36.1% of respondents say they oppose (20.6%) or lean toward opposing (15.5) it.

The results would appear to show a gap between settler leaders, who have firmly opposed the plan for allowing the possibility of Palestinian statehood, and the settler street, which may be more receptive to the peace proposal revealed earlier this year.

The survey conducted between June 4 and 7 also asked participants to reveal, “based on the details available to you, and compared to all other [peace] proposals, how you would define the Trump plan.” A total of 35.4% of respondents said the plan was good but not perfect, 20.2% said the plan was the best that they would get, 27.6% said it was a bad plan that must be opposed, 9.2% said it was horrible but bearable and 7.5% said they were unsure.

A large billboard depicting US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of a new campaign by the Yesha Council with the text “no to a Palestinian state” and “sovereignty, do it right” in Jerusalem on June 10, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Asked whether they thought the Trump plan would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, 35.7% of respondents said they were sure the plan would not result in the creation of Palestine, 18.8% said it would depend on who is in the White House, 11.5% said it would depend on who is in the Prime Minister’s Office, 8.8% said they were sure it would end with a Palestinian state and 25.1% said they did not know.

The survey’s margin of error was 3.1%. Direct Polls said it used an unspecified “digital panel system” to ensure only Israelis living in the West Bank were polled, but declined to elaborate further and refused to reveal its methodology.

The organization’s pollsters Shlomo Filber and Tzuriel Sharon said a settler group commissioned the survey, but they declined to identify the organization.

US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman (with red tie) with Head of Efrat regional council Oded Revivi and heads of local councils in Judea and Samaria during a visit to the Jewish settlement of Efrat, February 20, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Responding to the survey’s results, Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi, who leads a group of at least nine West Bank mayors who have voiced support for the Trump plan, said the poll proves that most settlers “understand the one-time opportunity that Israel has to apply Israeli law” to large areas of the West Bank.

He said in a statement that Israelis in the West Bank understand “that the window of opportunity with such a sympathetic US administration is quite narrow and that we must act fast.”

“It seems to me that the representatives acting on the public’s behalf should act accordingly and bring about the promotion of the plan,” he added, in apparent reference to an opposing camp of 10 settler leaders led by the head of the Yesha umbrella settlement council, which has spoken out ardently against the Trump proposal.

A picture taken on June 16, 2020, shows buildings under construction in Mishor Adumim, an Israeli industrial zone adjacent to the settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank east of Jerusalem. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Revivi has said a majority of the 24 settler mayors support the plan, explaining that the handful of council chairmen who have not voiced an opinion on the matter were supportive behind closed doors.

What the survey did not test was the importance of the issue among settlers. In a Channel 12 poll earlier this month, only eight percent of respondents who identified as right-wing said enacting Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank is the government’s most important task at hand. Sixty-eight percent said that the ongoing economic crisis was the most burning issue and 14% flagged the coronavirus pandemic as most urgent. The poll surveyed Israelis on both sides of the Green Line, though.

Settler leaders who spoke to The Times of Israel have offered slightly varying opinions regarding whether their constituents support the plan. But all of them are in agreement that the issue is not particularly burning for the residents.

Most Popular
read more: