A poll released hours after US President Donald Trump said that he’ll likely announce his long-awaited Middle East peace plan before his meeting early next week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz, showed that just one-third of Israelis support the unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley.
The poll commissioned by the Walla news site and carried out prior to Trump’s announcement, found that 35 percent of respondents supported unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley, while 30% oppose it and 35% said they didn’t know.
According to the survey, only 48% of those who self-identify as being on the right of the political spectrum would support the move with 21% saying they don’t support it and 31% responding that they do not know.
The poll found that of those who identify themselves as among Blue and White’s centrist base, only 20% support Israel applying sovereignty, 44% do not support, and 36% do not know.
According to Walla, the high level of respondents saying they do not know how they feel about the Jordan Valley question, could show a lack of understanding of the issue and its implications.
Gantz vowed on Tuesday to annex the Jordan Valley “in coordination with the international community” if he wins the upcoming election.
Netanyahu responded by saying he would apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley as well as every settlement in the West Bank “without exception.”
Ahead of the election last September, Netanyahu vowed he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley if he won. However, the results led to an extension of the deadlock that has now paralyzed Israeli politics for over a year and neither he nor Gantz were able to form a government that would have been able to carry out the controversial move.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned on Thursday that Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley would spell the death of the two-state solution and terminate all opportunities to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Walla poll was carried out by Midgam Wednesday-Thursday, after Gantz’s announcement, and sampled 505 respondents out of 3,459 people asked via the internet and telephone. The survey had a margin error of +4.4%.
US Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation for Netanyahu and Gantz to visit the White House next week during a meeting with the prime minister in Jerusalem after addressing the international World Holocaust Forum on Thursday. He said that at Netanyahu’s request, the invitation was also issued to Gantz.
Asked when he would release the plan, which has been shepherded by the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump said it would be rolled out “sometime prior” to his meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz.
“Probably we’ll release it a little bit prior to that,” Trump said.
The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel, and is unlikely to garner any international support if it is seen as undermining the prospect of a two-state solution.
The Palestinians rejected Trump’s peace efforts after he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017 and moved the US Embassy there in May 2018.
Channel 12, citing unnamed Israeli sources, reported earlier Thursday that the US administration’s plan calls for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and 100-plus settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as its capital.
The channel also reported that the US plan would grant Israel full security control in the Jordan Valley, and provide for some minor land swaps and a possible absorption of some Palestinian refugees in Israel; it also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally.
It ultimately provides for a Palestinian state but under conditions that no Palestinian leader could conceivably accept, the TV report said. Channel 12 reported that Abbas does not know the details of the plan, and that it is regarded in Ramallah as “dead on arrival.” The PA has had no substantive dealings with the US administration since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump himself seemingly cast doubt on the reports, tweeting shortly after their release that “reports about details and timing of our closely held peace plan are purely speculative.”
Next week’s meeting could produce an awkward scene. Gantz has made Netanyahu’s indictment on graft charges a focus of his campaign, and his Blue and White party is pushing to counter Netanyahu’s immunity bid before the election. At the same time, they will be joined by an impeached president who is being tried in the Senate.
The US was believed to be holding back on releasing the peace plan until Israel had a permanent government. Those calculations may have changed as the deadlock in Israeli politics looks to be further prolonged.
Trump may also be looking for a boost from evangelical and pro-Israel supporters as the Senate weighs whether to remove him from office after he was impeached last month, and as he gears up for a reelection battle this year.
While the plan is expected to be friendly to Israel, it could still face opposition from Netanyahu’s right-wing partners.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yamina party, called Trump a “true friend” of Israel and said the country likely stands before a “historic opportunity.” But he said his party would not allow the transfer of any land to Palestinian control or for a Palestinian state to be established.
Other right-wing politicians similarly voiced alarm at the possibility of a Palestinian state, while left-wing leaders lambasted the purported outline as a threat to a Democratic Jewish state.
Agencies contributed to this report.