Poll: Nearly 80% of Israelis prefer UAE deal over West Bank annexation

Still, over half of respondents to survey believe Netanyahu broke campaign promise by pursuing pact; 14% say diplomatic breakthrough will, or might, change their vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on a phone call with UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayed, on August 13, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/PMO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on a phone call with UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayed, on August 13, 2020. (Kobi Gideon/PMO)

Nearly 80 percent of Israelis prefer Israel’s normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates over West Bank annexation, according to a survey on Sunday.

Meanwhile, some 14% said the accord would, or might, change their vote in a future election.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that they are establishing full diplomatic relations in the US-brokered accord, which also required Israel to suspend its contentious plan to annex West Bank land sought by the Palestinians for a future state. Israel had previously planned to unilaterally move ahead with the measures on the basis of the US peace plan.

The agreement makes the UAE the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full, active diplomatic ties with Israel. Thursday’s joint statement said deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights, and embassies.

According to a poll by Channel 12 Sunday, 76.7% of respondents back the peace deal over annexation, while only 16.5% preferred annexation. The rest, 6.8%, either had no preference or said they didn’t know.

The survey respondents were asked to choose one policy over the other, and were not quizzed directly on whether they support the normalization bid with the Gulf state.

A man reads a copy of UAE-based The National newspaper, with a headline about the UAE-Israel agreement and Israel’s suspension of annexation moves, near the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure and building in the world, in Dubai on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

Most participants, 61.4%, also opined that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to suspend annexation in favor of the deal violated his campaign promises. Right-wing voters, however, were split 50-50 on whether it constituted a breach of the campaign vows.

The vast majority of respondents in the poll, 85.8%, also said the UAE deal would not change their vote if Israeli elections were held today. Meanwhile, 7.5% said the diplomatic breakthrough would change their vote, while 6.6% said they hadn’t decided yet.

The survey was conducted Sunday by Direct Polls, among 545 adult respondents, with a margin of error of 4.4%.

Netanyahu on Sunday said he expects more Arab countries to normalize their ties with Israel after last week’s agreement with the United Arab Emirates, and that the process will eventually also drive peace with the Palestinians. During a later interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Netanyahu denied that he was forced to reject annexation in exchange for normalization.

“It’s not as if someone gave me a choice and told me to pick either sovereignty or normalization,” he said. “Just as nobody believed I would bring a peace agreement — I will also bring the sovereignty.”

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